pic Panda Exp takeout dish

Attention: Marketing Team at Panda Express

I am part of a grass roots group, SLO FOAM FREE, in San Luis Obispo, CA that successfully brought the City to adopt an “Ordinance Regulating Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Food Containers and Products” on June 2, 2015.  We are working to bring our entire county to adopt the Ordinance to ban Polystyrene in the County – in all food services, restaurants, and the retail sale of it.  As you are well aware, there are six Panda Express restaurants in San Luis Obispo County, all of which contribute hundreds of cubit feet of non-recyclable trash to our landfill.  We join 79 other cities in CA who have made the right choice to ban EPS.

Panda Express serves all their food on Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam).  Eating from Polystyrene – with hot, oily, or acid-based foods releases the chemicals that Expanded Polystyrene is manufactured with – Styrene, Benzene & Ethylene, into the foods. That Panda Express is responsible to contaminating the public with these bad chemicals – all cancerous, is unconscionable. The second major reason is that “EPS” is not recyclable or compostable – but instead goes entirely to the Landfill. EPS fills a huge part of our Cold Canyon Landfill, as well as a lot of it ends up as litter – in the rivers, roadsides, beaches and the ocean. Wildlife and marine life end up eating it – particularly with food scraps on it. 

A quote from Douglas McCauley, a marine biology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says there are two main issues that polystyrene causes for marine animals – mechanical and chemical.  “Oftentimes, we find polystyrene foam lodged in the intestines that causes blockages that can be lethal. If you think about how we worry about a mild blockage from eating the wrong thing, imagine eating a ball of Styrofoam. That’s what some of these animals are doing.” Chemically, absorbent properties make EPS even more dangerous. “Polystyrene foams essentially act like little pollutant sponges, picking up and concentrating some of the nastiest contaminants in the ocean,” McCauley says. “Then something like a sea turtle comes along and eats this thinking it is a jellyfish.” “It is very worrisome to me that some of these plastic-feeding fish may be ending up back on our tables,” says McCauley

We hope that Panda Express makes the right decision to change to alternative and healthy serving choices.  Our family has chosen to boycott Panda Express until we know that you have changed to better serving containers.

Finally, I’m attaching a photo of a Panda Express take-out box, taken at the Recreation Center, in Pacific Palisades, CA on Saturday 9-29-2015. The evidence of birds pecking at the box, trying to get at left-over food particles is evident and atrocious.


Janine Rands
81 Encanto Lane
San Luis Obispo 93401