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Polystyrene ban in Pittsfield, Mass.?

By: Don Loepp

April 2, 2013

It comes as a bit of a surprise that Pittsfield, Mass. -- a city that has a long association with the plastics industry -- is considering banning polystyrene food service containers.

The Berkshire Eagle newspaper reported the news today, "Pittsfield hears opening arguments on proposed plastic foam ban." According to news reports, Rinaldo Del Gallo, a local attorney, is petitioning the city to ban PS. He's making the typical arguments -- that PS is hard to recycle, that alternative products like paper are better, and that there are chemical safety issues with polystyrene.

Dart Container Corp. is leading the fight against the ban.

I'm surprised that a community with such a close connection to the plastics industry would seriously consider banning a plastic product. Pittsfield, after all, was the global headquarters for GE Plastics, and it remains the home of Sabic Innovative Plastics, the engineering resins business of Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

If Pittsfield bans PS foam, what's next? A ban on PET bottles in Akron, Ohio? Bag taxes in Leominster, Mass., and Evansville, Ind.?

I expect a battle in Pittsfield -- but I've been surprised before. Aren't there some polymer chemists and engineers who can get involved in this local issue?