Hayward may join the ranks of dozens of California cities to ban food vendors from using plastic-foam bowls, plates and boxes.
A ban on disposable polystyrene containers -- commonly known under the brand name Styrofoam -- would force restaurants to shift to using packaging that is either recyclable or biodegradable, for example, rigid plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard.
Berkeley was one of the first cities to pass such a ban in 1990. Since then, San Francisco and Oakland joined the movement, as did a host of other cities, including Fremont earlier this year. Fremont's ban takes effect on Jan. 1.
A bill that would have expanded the ban across the entire state died in 2009 because of concerns about its effect in tough economic times.
Hayward's ban would apply to all retailers that sell prepared food, including restaurants, delis, caterers, catering trucks and farmers markets. It would apply to city events, as well as people who have reserved a city facility.
Staff members from the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District said they would honor the ban at their own facilities, such as concessions at Kennedy Park, but would not attempt to enforce it for people using the parks.
The Hayward Unified School District, Cal State East Bay and Chabot College would be exempt from the ordinance.
According to the Hayward staff report, the ordinance would cost small and medium-sized restaurants an extra $150 to $250 per month.
While the proposed ban would apply to plates, cups, bowls, trays and hinged and lidded containers only, the staff report says it could be expanded in the future to also include straws, coffee stirs, utensils and hot-cup lids.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the matter at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 777 B St.
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.