Dec 30 - California Says Goodbye to Polystyrene 'Peanut' Packaging

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Starting January 1, distributors will no longer be able to use those obnoxious polystyrene packaging 'peanuts', thanks to new state law sponsored by CAW.

AB 3025, by former Assembly Member Sally Lieber, prohibits the sale of expanded polystyrene, aka Styrofoam, loose fill packaging in this state unless it is comprised of at least 60% post consumer recycled material. The law was passed by the California legislature in 2008. The full text of the law is available here.

"Those plastic peanuts are as obnoxious to consumers as they are dangerous to the environment," said CAW Executive Director Mark Murray. "Expanded foam polystyrene is particularly dangerous because it is light and easily airborne, so it can be quickly transported by wind and rain into the marine environment where it causes irreparable harm to our water quality and our marine life."

In advance of the new law, most product distributors have already moved to packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint, as well as being more consumer friendly.

"This holiday season, we saw a lot less polystyrene and a lot more recycled paper products and air-filled bags," said Murray. "While the plastic bags are still problematic, they use substantially less energy and take up less space in landfill than the polystyrene peanuts."

Polystyrene has a disproportionate impact on the environment.

When AB 3025 was enacted, Assembly Member Sally Lieber said: "Degradable or recyclable products offer more environmentally sound and economical alternatives."

Interesting fact: Polystyrene peanuts are so lightweight and aerodynamic that the United States Antarctic Program has banned them in Antarctica, where wind speeds can reach up to 200 miles per hour, and also where the outdoor environment provides near-perfect camouflage for this problem product.

For more on the negative impacts of polystyrene, click here. SB 568, a statewide ban on Polystyrene takeout containers, is currently in the Assembly.

The next step for SB 568 is a vote on the Assembly floor— learn more about the proposed ban on Polystyrene containers and write your Assembly Member in support.


It's not too late to support CAW's work and make a tax-deductible donation online before the end of 2011--just click here.