Bill to ban PS food packaging in all California cities passes state Senate, moves on to Assembly; Dart Container likely to close two California PS plants if bill becomes law, senator warns

LOS ANGELES , June 8, 2011 () – A bill to ban polystyrene food packaging in all California cities that don’t commit to a recycling program by Jan. 1, 2014 was approved by the California state Senate on June 3 and now heads to the state’s Assembly for a vote, Packaging Digest reported June 8.

The bill, SB568, easily passed the Senate with 21-15 vote, and if signed into law, is likely to force The Dart Container Corp. to close its Lodi, California, factory. The plant produces PS food containers and is a “closed loop” recycler of PS products. In other words, the Mason, Michigan-based company allows consumers to bring PS materials to its warehouse for recycling. Dart has also extended its recycling efforts to local schools where PS trays are used in lunch programs.

The bill is receiving stiff opposition from some lawmakers who say the bill’s passage would cost California badly needed jobs. Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale, said that the state needs the 100 jobs that would be lost at the Lodi plant and the additional 300 jobs that would be lost at Dart’s Corona, California, plant.

Berryhill went on to say the bill unfairly singles out PS food packaging. The real culprit is PS used for packing televisions and other electronics, as that’s the type of packaging that gets into water sources and hurts the environment, Berryhill asserted.

Another lawmaker, Alyson Huber, D-Lodi, also opposes the bill, saying that California has successfully established paper and glass recycling programs and the state should include PS in existing programs. Huber also noted that the bill allows cities and counties to permit food venders to use PS if there are programs in place that commit to hitting a 60% PS recycling rate.

Proponents of the bill such as the bill’s author, Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said the bill not only addresses environmental issues but also could create jobs in the state in the alternative packaging industry. Dart responded by saying those kinds of jobs are likely to be sent overseas.

Environmental activists assert that PS comprises 15% of all litter in California. San-Francisco-based environmental watchdog group, Clean Water Action, said the problem with PS is that it breaks down into tiny pieces and weighs too little to be easily captured by street sweeping machinery. CWA said that a study revealed that about 70% of litter in four areas it surveyed came from food and beverage packaging, including PS.

The primary source of this story is Packaging Digest, Oak Brook, Illinois, June 8, 2011.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.