MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s high noon at the popular Marino’s Deli along Johnson Street in northeast Minneapolis. Original Italian recipes draw a large lunch crowd every day of the week.

As a customer places an order, deli owner Ralph Matthes smiles and says, “Here or to go?”

Most often, the daily specials are served up hot from the oven. But for those in a rush, there’s always take out.

“Styrofoam, if you want to keep something cold or warm, Styrofoam holds better. People get back to work and still have a hot meal,” Matthes said.

Like many restaurant owners, Matthes said the proposal to ban polystyrene containers will mean switching to more expensive alternatives. And that extra cost will have to be passed along to the customer or absorbed by the business at a time when restaurants are being forced to swallow other rising costs.

“There’s going to be the minimum wage hike, the stadium tax and beef and pork prices are skyrocketing,” he said. “I’ve been holding prices down as much as I can for people.”

It’s a concern because there is a proposal circulating city hall to update the current ordinance on food and beverage containers. Minneapolis council member Andrew Johnson says Styrofoam is simply bad for the environment and needs to go.

Johnson adds that many restaurants have already made the switch to more environment friendly containers, like paper and cardboard.

“Compostable containers and recyclables are already available,” Johnson said. “So this is really affecting a subset of restaurants.”

Johnson said Minneapolis is simply doing what 100 other U.S. cities already have — banning polystyrene food and beverage containers.

“Takeout containers and beverage containers should be environmentally friendly,” Johnson said.

At Marinos, takeout orders are already split evenly, between paper and Styrofoam. But, adds Matthes, good luck taking his baked rigatoni in a paper box.

“I understand that people have to do what they have to do, but I don’t think there’s any abuse of it right now,” Matthes said.

The city council will hold a public hearing on the proposal in the coming weeks and should the revised ordinance pass it would take effect in early 2015.


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