Government's New Target: Styrofoam

Restaurant owner Joe Thompson on push to ban disposable containers


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Indeed, it's back, still Styrofoaming at the mouth, back as the new evil, Styrofoam. The green crowd says it's simply got to go.

And now California lawmaker wants to make his state the first to make it go for good.

Joe Thompson says that banning foam containers would actually can more jobs. Joe owns the Gold Rush Grille in Sacramento, California.

But they're serious about this, Joe. They want them out. Why?

JOE THOMPSON, OWNER, GOLD RUSH GRILLE: I'm not quite sure why. I think they looked at some litter and said, hey, there's some Styrofoam containers in there. Let's ban Styrofoam containers.

CAVUTO: How would this affect you, Joe?

THOMPSON: Well, it would affect us by about $250 to $300 a week, which would in turn allow me to have to lay off one part-time employee or take a full-time employee to part-time.

I only have six employees. So, that kind of effect on me is pretty big.

CAVUTO: Now, they say you are overstating the switch to more environmentally friendly paper products, that it isn’t that severe. You crunch the numbers and you say it is and you say the real job hit would be real.

THOMPSON: That is correct.

My current case for 200 items would go from $22 to $54.

CAVUTO: Have you tried the more environmentally friendly cups and plates, though? They say you really should give it a try, Joe.

THOMPSON: Right. We have tried it.

Our customers are not in a situation right now where they want to spend more money on these types of products. And in some cases we've had to put two of those products stacked inside each other to equal the sturdiness of the Styrofoam.

CAVUTO: So in making the switch to the other products, you could have a lawsuit on your hand for someone whose coffee falls through the bottom of an environmentally friendly cup?

THOMPSON: You betcha. What they're worried about is the composting.

And if you think about it, composting needs two things: heat and moisture. And if I put soup or a food item that has heat and moisture in that container, that already starts breaking it down right away.

CAVUTO: All right. Well, Joe, you throwing too much common sense here. If you could dispense with that, I'd appreciate it.



THOMPSON: Sorry about that.

CAVUTO: I would like to get your sense of a state that seems fixated on this.

Last time I checked -- no offense to your fine state. I love it. It’s a beautiful state.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

CAVUTO: But you guys are in hock like nobody’s business. So maybe, maybe, maybe, whatever the Styrofoam fixation that they can get on maybe the "spending more money than can ever be believed" fixation.


Well, one of the things that would allow an out in this bill is if the cities are covering a 60 percent recycling rate. Well, who would be the ones to monitor that and who would be ones doling out the fines?

CAVUTO: Well, there is that.

Joe, now, I talked to a number of environmentalists on this issue who say, well, you just tell Joe next time you see him that those Styrofoam cups he’s churning out will be around for centuries. Now, I can’t prove that, but apparently a Styrofoam cup is very hard to degrade or sort of die on its own. It will be here millennium after man leaves. Do you feel guilty about that?

THOMPSON: I think there maybe over the long term should be some other items that we look at. But the items aren’t there yet. And, ultimately, Styrofoam now can be recycled. And there are people out there recycling it.

CAVUTO: All right, Joseph, thank you very much -- Joe Thompson, Gold Rush Grille owner.

We just wanted to put this in perspective, because this is what government authorities are focused on right now in the middle of craziness, right, in the middle of a state disaster and now a post-hurricane disaster on the East Coast of America.

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