The Arcata City Council today will review a draft of an ordinance that would phase out plastic foam containers such as Styrofoam at food establishments and provide direction to staff.

”The purpose of this ordinance is to protect the natural environment from non-biodegradable litter, reduce solid wastes and promote public health,” a staff report said. “They make up a majority of visible wastes littering public places and natural environments, and are known to persist in the environment for many years before breaking down into non-biodegradable components, posing potential environmental and public health risks.”

In 2008, staff surveyed eating establishments in Arcata, and found that 84 percent of Arcata-based takeout food vendors support an ordinance, and 68 percent don't use plastic foam containers -- which account for 15 percent of the litter collected in storm drains, according to the report.

”I can't speak for the Co-op's board, but I can say we don't use any Styrofoam containers in our business,” North Coast Co-op Marketing and Membership Director Melanie Bettenhausen said. “That ordinance wouldn't affect us.”

The ordinance hasn't been pursued recently because the city thought there was going to be a statewide legislative solution, Environmental Services Director Mark Andre said.

”That failed or it never came to be,” Andre said. “We decided to do the plastic, the reusable bag one first.”

At least 80 other California jurisdictions have already adopted ordinances banning plastic foam in one or more form, the report said.

According to a 2008 letter sent to business owners, the ban would not apply to bakery and deli items prepackaged outside the store; raw eggs; ready-to-cook items; raw meat; uncooked or instant foods; fruits and vegetables delivered to stores in the packaging; unprepared fresh fruits and vegetables packaged in the store that are for sale in unit; meats smoked, cooked or prepared and packaged outside of the store; and beverages packaged outside the store.

Packing materials, florist supplies and construction materials also wouldn't be regulated by the ordinance.

Another letter will be sent to affected owners, and a meeting will be held to explain the potential ordinance if the council directs staff to move forward, Andre said.

If you go:

What: Arcata City Council meeting

Where: City Council chamber, 736 F St.

When: 6 p.m. today

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or lrodriguez@times-standard.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.