Battle to prevent PS bans a 'big challenge'

Mike Verespej

Published: April 9, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Public Policy, Suppliers, Sustainability, Packaging

ORLANDO, FLA. (April 9, 1:45 p.m. ET) — The challenge of convincing legislators not to ban plastic products isn’t limited to plastic bags, which have captured most of the attention of legislators the last three years, particularly on the West Coast.

Manufacturers of expanded polystyrene takeout packaging and foodservice ware have battled the same issue, and experienced some of the same frustrations, said Monroe, Ga.-based J. Michael Martinez, regional manager of government affairs for Dart Container Corp., which is headquartered in Mason, Mich.

“We have a very big challenge,” said Martinez in a presentation at the Business of Plastics conference at NPE2012. “We are dealing with legislators, school officials, consumers, the general public and students … and how do you effectively communicate a great deal of technical information to people who do not have the technology background to be able to dive down that deep into the topic?”

He said filling in the gaps can be challenging at times, because there are no set definitions of either what’s green or what’s sustainable, and because the great preponderance of people who are interested in green products don’t have a clear definition themselves.

“People say they want to do something sustainable, something green,” said Martinez. “But when you ask them what they mean, nine out of 10 don’t know. And most definitions are so imprecise and different, that they are not helpful.”

In addition, often legislators and environmentalists are “looking for an easy answer,” he said. “Legislators ask do we have X-percent of recycled resin or bio-content only because it is nice and round and sounds large enough to make a difference.”

In other cases, Martinez said, it is “difficult” to have a discussion with legislators “because state legislators and city officials have already decided what to do” by the time a hearing is held. “Often reading the materials we sent them is immaterial to the decision.”

He points out, however, that when they do read the material, it can make a difference. He pointed to one city where the legislators read the material and decided not to ban PS because the material Dart sent was read and it “recast the debate” for city officials.

But even that win had the unintended consequence of highlighting the uphill battle that manufacturers of PS takeout foodservice products face.

“After council decided not to ban polystyrene, one legislator said ‘If we’re not going to ban polystyrene, what can we ban,’” underscoring, Martinez said, how some legislators are “just looking to ban something.”

The most recent community to ban polystyrene takeout containers is Hermosa Beach, Calif., which approved a ban March 28 on PS takeout packaging that will go into effect at the end of September. That brings the number of communities in California with bans on PS takeout packaging and foodservice ware to 51. Further up the West Coast, Portland Ore., and the cities of Seattle and Issaquah in the state of Washington also have bans on PS takeout packaging.


Comments

Battle to prevent PS bans a 'big challenge'

Mike Verespej

Published: April 9, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Americhem beats weather woes at start of 2014 for good fiscal year

November 26, 2014 9:45 am ET

Gains from the automotive and construction markets provided a strong fiscal 2014 for Americhem Inc.    More

Image

PE prices drop for first time in two years, PP down 5 cents

November 26, 2014 10:22 am ET

North American polyethylene buyers might want to circle November 2014 in red on their calendars — since PE prices this month have fallen for...    More

Image

SPI hopes to build on EPS recycling

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Successfully recycling expanded polystyrene can be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. EPS, however, has value, is in demand and deserves to be ...    More

Image

Pan-European plastics recycling show scheduled for 2015

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Europe is to get its first pan-European exhibition and conference aimed at the region's plastics recycling industry next year.    More

Image

Irish packaging group Smurfit Kappa opens film plant in Spain

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Global packaging group Smurfit Kappa Group plc has responded to growing demand for its bag-in-box liquid container/dispensers by opening a new plant i...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events