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Polystyrene - When Will Pasadena Pass an Ordinance to Ban It?





<b>October 1, 2014</b> - Environmental Advisory Commission member Morey Wolfson urges public support for prompt action to set a styrofoam ban in Pasadnea.


Morey Wolfson


Pasadena Group Sierra Club Newsletter


Pasadena is moving down a path that should lead to regulation of polystyrene ("Styrofoam TM") food and beverage containers. The timing of the effort and ultimate success may hinge on how well citizens engage with their local elected officials.

After several years of development, the Pasadena Department of Public Works just issued a comprehensive "Zero Waste Strategic Plan." The plan calls for a polystyrene ban after the City Council approves the plan, hopefully on October 20. The concern that remains is the timing. The Department has not made a commitment to a target date to get the ordinance in front of the City Council. Citizens need to press the Council and the Department to get this job done before the end of April 2015.

At last count, 88 California cities or jurisdictions have enacted regulations on styrofoam. They did so because styrofoam takes essentially forever to decompose. It cannot be composted. Due to its light weight, food contamination, and no market, not more than 1% of polystyrene food and beverage containers can realistically be expected to be recycled. It is ruining our rivers, beaches, and aquatic life. Why is Pasadena not among these 88 locales?

Pasadena's reputation as a "Green City" will benefit by enacting a polystyrene ordinance. Restaurant customers will be beneficiaries. Alternative environmentally-preferable containers work very well at a financial premium in the range of about 2 to 3 cents. Restaurant customers are pleased when they see a more sustainable container. This gives customers a reason to thank the restaurant for "doing the right thing." Some chambers of commerce organizations in California, when confronted with a policy direction to ban polystyrene decided to "get behind" the regulation because it enhances the public's positive impression of their city. Virtually every environmentally responsible restaurant in California has switched to environmentally preferred take-out containers - in some instances, over a decade ago.

Let's aim to repeat on polystyrene what Pasadena's City Council did by a unanimous vote in October 2011 when it banned plastic bags.

Note: Morey Wolfson is the Vice Chair of Pasadena's Environmental Advisory Commission. This message was written as an individual. The EAC has not yet taken a formal advisory position.




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