Jul 26, 2021
Fayetteville likely to axe ban on foam containers
Illustration of a no symbol made out of styrofoam, which is crumbling.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It looks like restaurants in Fayetteville will soon be allowed to use single-use expanded polystyrene containers again.

What's happening: The city council will look at amending its ban on polystyrene containers to allow the material to be used at food establishments, according to its Tuesday agenda. The official vote won't be until next week.

  • The city has little choice because the state legislature recently passed a law limiting cities' ability to restrict containers at places the cities do not own or operate.

Why it matters: Polystyrene is bad for the environment.

  • It's not easy to recycle, takes approximately 500 years to decompose, and can be toxic to people or animals when it gets into the air and waterways.

Yes, but: Alternative containers are generally more expensive for restaurants, and that cost typically gets passed along to customers.

Context: Fayetteville has a history of butting heads with the state government.

  • The state legislature passed the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act in response to the city's 2015 civil rights ordinance that prohibited businesses or landlords from LGBTQ discrimination. The ordinance was then struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
  • The city instituted a mask mandate early in the pandemic, raising questions about its authority to do so. (Soon after, a statewide mask mandate took effect, making the city-specific rules irrelevant.)

What's next: The city could offer businesses incentives to voluntarily avoid polystyrene.

Attend the meeting: 4:30pm Tuesday at City Hall or register here in advance to watch online.

Editor's note: The headline of this story has been corrected to remove the reference to Styrofoam. It is different from expanded polystyrene and is not used in food or drink packaging.

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