EPS Newsline

Volume 1 | Summer 2013

Issue link: http://cp.revolio.com/i/143144

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2 continued from page 1 Case Study: Ban Failure Portland, Oregon banned polystyrene foam food service in 1990. Eighteen years later, the Cascade Policy Institute issued a report on whether or not the intended environmental benefits were realized. The study compared the costs to produce and recycle both polystyrene and paper products and examined the economic and environmental effects of the ban on the Portland community. Baltimore City Councilman Kraft holds processed material made from 400 polystyrene cups Prior to establishing the PS recycling program Councilman Kraft supported a ban proposal that would prohibit restaurants and food service establishments from using any kind of polystyrene cups, plates, bowls, or containers, punishable by a $1,000 fine per offense. The Baltimore Commission on Sustainability said it would not support the bill as written and gave several reasons for its stance, including a San Francisco study concluding a ban in that city did not effectively reduce litter in the streets. The Commission stated that "litter on the streets and in the Harbor is caused by human behavior," and any effort to reduce litter would have to include educational outreach. The Commission also noted that a ban would have an economic impact on food service establishments that currently use polystyrene packaging, and that it would be wise to understand that impact before proceeding with a ban. Local businesses and the food packaging industry should also be involved in any city campaign to reduce litter, the commission said. Baltimore is building a greener and cleaner community while allowing local businesses and the economy to prosper. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stated, "This continues our efforts to expand recycling options in the City of Baltimore and to offer our residents more environmental choices. The addition of foam #6 recycling is evidence that this administration is committed to moving Baltimore forward." The City of Baltimore proves there are sustainable foam recycling options, and ultimately better choices for the environment, if a community is willing to do the work necessary for success. n The verdict? Overwhelming evidence shows that alternatives to foam food service containers actually carry more environmental impacts. At the same time, the law drives up costs to businesses and consumers. As a means of educating the public, the ban fails because it encourages and perpetuates misunderstanding. The Portland, Oregon ban also showed that it harmed the local economy. Paper products are significantly more expensive to manufacture than polystyrene containers, a cost that is directly transferred onto the owners and patrons of local restaurants and coffee shops that are mandated to use the paper products. Higher costs also curb potential entrepreneurs and start-up ventures. One of the driving arguments for the Portland ban was that Oregon landfills were quickly approaching maximum capacity. However, after the foam ban plastics a a whole made up only 15% of all landfill waste compared to paper product's 26%. Supporters of the ban also cited that polystyrene products were not recyclable, and if paper products were mandated citizens would therefore increase recycling habits. However, the ban elicited the exact opposite effect. The local polystyrene recycling center shut down shortly after the ban was instated, and even though paper products were used in substitution, consumers continued to simply throw them out. n A study conducted by Keep America Beautiful (KAB) indicated that littering behaviors can be altered through comprehensive educational programs. In fact, the actual count of overall litter decreased by 61% from 1969 to 2009.

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