What does the new Colorado law banning some to-go containers mean for restaurant food prices?

Posted at 7:54 AM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 09:57:41-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Styrofoam containers will no longer be handed out by Colorado restaurants this year.

A law to ban polystyrene to-go containers went into effect on Jan. 1. It prohibits restaurants from buying and using Styrofoam containers for to-go orders.

The law said polystyrene products have harmful effects on the state's natural resources and environment when Colorado disposes of these products in landfills.

Many restaurants in Southern Colorado, such as Azada Mexican Grill, are starting to transition from plastic to paper to-go containers. Several restaurants use Styrofoam to package up leftovers.

Azada Mexican Grill is a family-owned restaurant. One server, Emily Hernandez, said they use a lot of Styrofoam.

“We use it for the majority of our stuff,” Hernandez said.

Azada Mexican Grill has been using these Styrofoam containers for 12 years.

“Our bowl for chips and queso, and then our fountain drinks as well,” Hernandez said.

But Azada’s, Mediterranean Cafe and other eateries have to find a new solution.

“Obviously because of the law we are changing everything out to paper now,” Hernandez said.

The owner of Azada’s said paper containers are three times more expensive than Styrofoam.

Down the street is a Mediterranean cafe. According to the owner, Ronald Hunter, the cafe also uses Styrofoam containers.

“Losing styrofoam is going to be a hit for us,” Hunter said.

Hunter said he also preferred Styrofoam.

“The three compartments were best for our food, where you have individual slots to put your dips, like hummus and all that good stuff,” Hunter said.

He said it’s cheaper, more durable, and is easy to present and separate food.

“Not that Styrofoam is beautiful, but when you open it up, what's inside is what you are looking at, so you are trying to find something that is going to have that visual effect as well,” Hunter said.

Hunter wants to find a low-cost container, so he does not have to raise food prices.

“You're hoping we can find something that won't have to bring menu items up to or the cost of your food,” Hunter said.

Azada’s decided on paper boxes, so it will be convenient for customers.

“We are just trying our best here, and we are trying to serve them and let them know we are here to help and be very useful to what we need to do to help the environment,” Hernandez said.

Restaurants can continue to use Styrofoam containers if they bought them before Jan. 1st, but once they run out, they will need to switch to either paper or plastics.

Different to-go containers may affect food prices, new law bans polystyrene