A ban on foam food takeout containers isn’t yet on the menu in Twin Cities suburbs.
While Minneapolis passed a law last year requiring most takeout containers to be recyclable or compostable, St. Louis Park is the only metro-area suburb that has passed a similar law, set to take effect Jan. 1.
Virtually no other Twin Cities suburb has expressed interest in the topic, according to state and county environmental officials, who couldn’t say why the subject has drawn so little interest in the suburbs.
The lone city taking a new look at takeout containers is Edina. When St. Louis Park sponsored a packaging fair this week, Edina City Council Member Ann Swenson was there, checking out the vendors of eco-friendly containers and tableware.
“This is something every city struggles with,” Swenson said. “You can learn from other cities — you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel.”
Swenson said her city’s Energy and Environment Commission has begun gathering information on the takeout container issue.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Park business owners had a chance to look over the packaging options available to them in preparing for the new law. Most seemed to accept the mandate, and some were downright enthusiastic.
Mike Fuller, a marketing strategist for Chipotle Mexican Grill, said the national chain is using 12 Minnesota restaurants as a testing lab for a new, compostable bowl made of recycled sugar beets.
“The feedback from our staff has been very positive,” Fuller said. “I think people will embrace it.”
Ruth Jared of KeyImpact Sales & Systems in Chanhassen displayed an array of containers made of sugar cane, corn and wheat. Some of her clients “have to be dragged into it,” Jared said, “but they get great comments from their customers when they switch.”
Phil Weber owns Park Tavern, one of St. Louis Park’s busiest restaurants. He said that the tavern goes through more than 500,000 plastic cups a year and that the switch to compostable cups could cost him thousands of dollars. But he’s OK with that.
“It’s the wave of the future,” Weber said. “Everybody wants to be a steward of the environment. I’d rather be on the cutting edge than play catch-up.”