Battling PS bans in the U.S. a 'very big challenge' for plastics industry because of public pressure to be 'green' and 'sustainable' without clear definitions and legislators' inclination to look for 'easy answer,' Dart Container executive says

LOS ANGELES , April 9, 2012 () – The plastics industry faces “a very big challenge” in fighting bans on polystyrene containers that have been cropping up in the U.S., especially on the West Coast, said a executive at Dart Container Corp., reported Plastics News on April 9.

The challenge is to communicate effectively with those that lack technical understanding of the industry and without clear definitions of what is green or sustainable, said J. Michael Martinez, Dart’s regional manager of government affairs in Monroe, Georgia.

When you ask people what they mean by doing something sustainable or green, “nine out of 10 don’t know,” said Martinez, in a presentation at the Business of Plastics conference at NPE2012, Plastics News reported.

Definitions do not help as they tend to be “imprecise and different,” making it difficult to delve into the topic with legislators, school officials, consumers, the general public and students, he said.

Legislators and environmentalists also are apt to be “looking for an easy answer” and have reached a decision even before public hearings are held or any materials sent by Dart are read, said Martinez, reported Plastics News.

Often Dart’s submissions are not read; but when they are, they can make a difference, Martinez said, noting that one city that read the materials decided not to ban PS. He did not identify the city.

However, following the council’s decision not to ban PS in that city, one legislator asked what would be banned if not PS, underscoring how some officials are “just looking to ban something,” said Martinez, Plastics News reported.

With Hermosa Beach, California, approving a PS ban on March 28, which will take effect at the end of September, there are now 51 communities in California that have banned PS takeout packaging and foodservice ware.

PS bans also have been enacted in Portland, Oregon, and the cities of Seattle and Issaquah in Washington, reported Plastics News.

Mason, Michigan-based Dart manufactures a broad range of single-use products for the foodservice, retail/consumer, and food packaging industries, and is the world's largest manufacturer of foam cups, according to its website.

The primary source of this article is Plastics News, Akron, Ohio, on April 9, 2012.

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