MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A ban on Styrofoam containers in Minneapolis restaurants went into effect on Earth Day, Wednesday.

The ordinance requires all food and drinks prepared for dine-in or take-out to be placed in packaging that can re-used, recycled, or composted.

That also includes serving boats, to-go containers, and plates.

“Every decision we make and all of our daily actions have an impact on the environment,” Angie Timmons, Hennepin County’s environmental educator, said.

Earth Day is a celebration of Mother Earth and our efforts to keep her green, from composting to recycling to driving an electric car.

Hennepin County took over Target Field Station to show people how easy it is to make a difference.

The city of Minneapolis is doing its part by banning Styrofoam containers.

“Residents and customers have been asking for it,” Timmons said.

And now restaurants must follow new rules. All food and drinks must be served in reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging.

Jeff Smith owns the only McDonald’s in Minnesota to recycle both organics and plastics.

“We recycle organics and we recycle plastics,” Smith said. “We’re still in the learning process. We’ve only been at it a month, but we’re very excited because we’ve already cut three yards of waste a week out of our stream, and we think we can cut it in half.”

Smith decided to go green just in time for the ban on Styrofoam in Minneapolis.

“This morning, I had a big breakfast in the new container,” Smith said. “I had a cup of coffee in the new paper container, and it didn’t leak, so I was pretty happy about it.”

Smith said with this new venture, he not only sees the changes in his restaurant, but it’s changing the habits of his employees.

“We’re finding out a lot of our crew people don’t recycle at home,” he said. “Now that we’re getting into it, they’re getting into it back at their houses, so it’s going to be a great deal.”

Hennepin County offers grants to businesses so they can get bins and equipment for proper disposal.

It could take a few weeks before all the Styrofoam is gone in Minneapolis, because restaurants will use their existing stock until they run out.

Reg Chapman

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