Officials in San Jose, California, opt to try partnering with Michigan-based Dart Container to deal with city's EPS takeout containers, delay proposed ban; local environmentalist says plastics industry's lobbying has been 'very effective'

LOS ANGELES , April 5, 2012 () –

A proposed ban on expanded polystyrene takeout containers has been delayed in San Jose, California, after city officials decided instead to try a public-private partnership to resolve the litter problem, reported SanJose.com on April 4.

City officials have agreed to explore how a pilot program might work with Dart Container Corp., after the Michigan-based manufacturer of EPS food packaging offered the city US$100,000 to look at other ways to meet trash reduction targets by 2014.

“Dart suggested they had a budget of $100,000” when meeting with city staffers, said Jennifer Garnett, a spokesperson for San Jose’s Environmental Services Dept., adding that the city did not take any money nor a commitment, SanJose.com reported.

That meeting was in December, after the city had held a series of public “Green to Go” meetings during 2011 in an attempt to gather opinions about the proposed ban. The turnout at those meetings was low and the opposition was negligible, leading to the assumption that the ban would be enacted.

Of the more than 50 cities and counties that have outlawed plastic bags, San Jose is the only one that hasn’t banned EPS, said Laura Kasa, executive director of Save Our Shores, a nonprofit group that focuses on keeping beaches litter-free, reported SanJose.com.

The city’s decision to delay acting on the EPS ban, as well as to turn down Dart’s money shocked Kasa, who said it’s “ridiculous” that Dart’s request for more outreach would be considered when San Jose held twice as many meetings as any other city did before implementing an EPS ban.

Sam Liccardo, a council member in San Jose, said that Dart’s offer of $100,000 “looks an awful lot like a bribe.” He previously asked that the city accelerate action on the EPS ban to this fall rather than wait until 2013, SanJose.com reported.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reportedly paid lobbyist Ed McGovern $40,000 to $400,000 to convince San Jose officials not to ban EPS, according to lobbyist forms filed with the City Clerk over a 12-month period ending September 2011.

Kasa said that the ACC’s lobbing efforts have been “very effective,” noting that state staffers in Sacramento told her last week that “ACC guys are here 24/7,” reported SanJose.com.

The primary source of this article is SanJose.com, San Jose, California, on April 4, 2012.

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