A product ban must be considered in terms of its cost and what it achieves from an environmental and social point of view. Based on a preliminary analysis, the costs of banning polystyrene food and beverage containers in California could easily be over $500 million per year and lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs in the state. Costs to already financially strapped public schools, in particular, could exceed $112 million annually. At the same time, the social benefits of the ban are highly uncertain and quite possibly very modest. According to recent life cycle cost comparisons, substitute products will result in higher energy and water consumption and, depending on the mix of substitutes preferred by consumers, higher greenhouse gas emissions. The impact on litter—a main objective of the ban—also appears to be small. The impact of polystyrene on marine ecosystems is yet unknown, and available evidence does not provide justification for significant environmental and economic costs the ban will entail.

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Economic Analysis of SB568’s Proposed Polystyrene Ban