When I wrote "Let's ban something we know nothing about..." last month, I thought maybe I was being a little tough on the town of Brookline, Mass. It turns out I wasn't. My earlier blog post assumed that the town residents would go along with the Selectmen's decision to ban PS foam, but not solid PS products like lids and straws. I poked fun at comments from officials about their perception of the dangers associated with polystyrene. But Brookline is one of those New England towns where residents can have the final say about issues, when they get together at town meetings and vote as a community. Unfortunately for plastics, public perception can be a powerful weapon -- remember how Concord, Mass., banned single-serve plastic water bottles? That perception problem surfaced in Brookline last night. The town didn't go along with the Selectmen's proposal to just ban PS foam products. They decided to ban ALL PS packaging and food service items. The Brookline law does not even have an exemption for PS trays used to package uncooked meat, fish or poultry, according to Mike Verespej's story on PlasticsNews.com today, "Brookline, Mass., residents vote to ban polystyrene containers." So -- assuming there's no legal challenge or reconsideration -- groceries and restaurants in Brookline are going to be hustling to find alternative products. And I have no doubt that some injection molders, extruders and thermoformers will find the market and sell them the necessary PS-free products -- for a premium price. After all, processors are pretty adaptable folks. But in the meantime, chalk this up as another lost battle for plastics in the court of public opinion.
Democracy in action? Brookline bans PS
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