PS police watch for foam offenders

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The Monterey County Weekly in Seaside, Calif., is unhappy that many restaurants in its circulation area are ignoring local bans on polystyrene take-out containers. So the newspaper has created a database of offenders, and now it is asking readers to help add to the list.

"Nobody likes to tattle on their favorite restaurants. And we understand that in these times, any added expense is hard on business owners," Kera Abraham writes today. "But elected officials - like our own readers - have sent a strong and united message that getting this toxic stuff out of the waste stream (and natural streams) is worth the extra investment."

She writes that as of June 15, 18 local restaurants were apparently violating local PS bans, while 12 were in compliance.

City officials don't really have the time or staff to go around and check on whether restaurants are complying with bans. So if anyone is going to pressure them to do so, it's likely to be local papers like this one, and grassroots environmental groups.

Even if 99 percent of customers don't care if a restaurant is using PS take-out containers, it takes just one complaint to draw attention to an offender.

So while I don't think most patrons would bother to report a violation, this "tattle" strategy could work in towns where the local media embrace the bans.