This rebuttal from the EPS Industry Alliance makes the case that the Packaging Digest article “Bans threaten the future of EPS” was misleading and that the use of expanded polystyrene for package cushioning is quite robust.
Here is the letter to the editor we received on April 29, 2014:
In follow up to the article, “Bans threaten the future of EPS” in the April 2014 edition of Packaging Digest, the EPS Industry Alliance (EPS-IA) is alarmed at the panicked tone of the story. Although local communities in California have gained some momentum to ban polystyrene foodservice, there is no real trend targeting transport packaging.
The story, bylined by Ms. Melucci, Environmental Packaging Intl. (EPI) project manager, warns against fines and violations because that’s what EPI sells—consulting services on compliance with packaging regulations. Therefore, this story is beneficial for EPI in that it gains interest in their consulting services by falsely informing the packaging community about a nonexistent threat.
In reality, the communities that have adopted any measures to address polystyrene loose fill peanuts or picnic coolers are far and few between. Ms. Melucci lists seven (7) to be exact. There are 482 cities in California that have not adopted bans. And, these seven cities represent a total population of 414,134—a mere 1/10th of one percent of the total California state population of 38 million. If Ms. Melucci had looked into this a little further she may have noted most of the jurisdictions targeting ice chests and loose fill peanuts are beachside communities with transient tourism that are the cause of huge litter behavior problems.
Prohibiting the retail sale of polystyrene picnic coolers is therefore appealing as a seemingly easy solution to remove polystyrene from beach litter although the legislation does not prevent polystyrene from entering the community from incoming product sales, deliveries or consumers that might bring polystyrene with them when visiting the beach. For example, Rite-Aid could not sell picnic coolers but other products they sell with secondary EPS packaging would not be banned.
The subhead “Peanuts barred in top cities” is also misleading since the legislation has been either held in committee or is delayed based on efforts to implement recycling solutions. In all likelihood, if New York City or Chicago ultimately do pass a polystyrene ban, loose fill may be exempted based on efforts to expand the existing mailing store take back program currently under administration by EPS-IA.
It is simply not true that this level of activity represents a growing trend. Coupled with the fact that these product bans are ill-advised to begin with and do absolutely nothing to advance environmental protection, this article simply perpetuates a bad solution to a misperception that polystyrene bans offer any benefit at all.
While a majority of the specific information provided in the article can be substantiated, as presented it creates a false impression overall. We request Packaging Digest contact us in the future to gain additional insights when providing coverage on EPS packaging developments.
EPS Industry Alliance