Anna Rice writes in the Hunington News that Styrofoam, also known as expanded polystyrene, could be banned in restaurants and other food service businesses if a proposal by City Councilor-At-Large Steven Murphy passes.

Murphy said he proposed the ordinance at a hearing Oct. 15 because styrofoam containers cannot be easily recycled.

The ordinance would apply to food service businesses that have over 5,000 square feet of retail or wholesale space or more than five locations in Boston.

Boston would not be the first US city to implement such a ban; San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle have already done so.

Jim Hunt, chief of environmental and energy services for the city of Boston, testified in support of the polystyrene ban at the hearing.

Hunt said it is possible to recycle polystyrene citing the Strive program at Brighton High School, which recycles styrofoam into reusable plastic trays. But it is not as cost-effective as recycling other materials and cannot be recycled in Boston’s single-stream recycling program, he said.

“It doesn’t break down,” Hunt said. “It will be here for hundreds of years in landfills or wherever the material may end up.”

But some local businesses do not support the ban. Representatives from several organizations that would be affected voiced their opposition at the hearing.

Scott Murphy, vice president of strategic manufacturing for Dunkin’ Brands, which owns Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins, said the proposed ordinance would have a negative impact on small business owners in Boston.

He said there are approximately 130 Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Boston, each operated by local franchisees. Switching from styrofoam cups to paper cups would cost about $10,000 per year, he said, which would likely result in increased coffee prices.

“The truth is we need more time to figure out the right solution,” Scott Murphy said.

Mike Levy, executive director of the Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group, also opposed the ban. He said more waste would be generated by banning styrofoam because people would “double cup” paper cups or use cardboard sleeves, since paper cups are not good insulators.

“I would argue that more people should be using foam cups, because you’ll have a lighter carbon footprint,” Levy said.

He said he urges the city to add polystyrene to its single-stream recycling program and said several other cities, including Los Angeles and Toronto, had done so.

Ray Ehrlich, spokesperson for Dart Container Corporation, a leading manufacturer of food service products, agreed with Levy. He said replacing styrofoam cups with paper cups was not a solution to Boston’s waste problems.

“I continue to not understand why polystyrene is looked at in a vacuum and other food service materials aren’t,” Ehrlich said.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Steven Murphy and City Council President Maureen Feeney said they had a much better understanding of the issues surrounding a polystyrene ban and that they hoped to host a less formal discussion with stakeholders in the near future.

Seth McCoy, communications director for Steven Murphy, told The News the city will be moving forward with the ordinance slowly.

“The hearing is the first step in a long process,” she said.

Some Northeastern students, like sophomore physical therapy major Jill Lampl, said they support Steven Murphy’s initiative.

“If it’s going to benefit the city, why not?” Lampl said. “There’s other things they can use besides styrofoam.”

Others, like Bill Morrison, a middler economics major, said they disagree, and that styrofoam is the most effective material for coffee cups and other food service containers.

“I don’t know what they would use [for coffee cups] instead,” Morrison said.