Jan 7 - Petition to Repeal San Jose’s Foam Ban Fails Due to False, Invalid Signatures (Press Release)

Jan. 7, 2014

Mark Murray, Executive Director

An attempt by the plastics industry to block San Jose’s newly enacted ban on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) fast food packaging, has failed.

In August of 2013, San Jose passed an ordinance banning EPS food containers, which is the largest such ban in the state and the second largest in the country. The following month, opponents began circulating a petition to repeal the ordinance through a public vote. The initiative drive appears to have been spearheaded by Jade Vo, of San Jose, who includes in her list of affiliations on LinkedIn, the California Restaurant Association.

Amid complaints of misleading language and "shady" signature-gathering tactics, a petition was submitted to the County Registrar of Voters with supposedly double the amount of signatures needed to make it to the ballot. On Friday, the City Clerk issued a memo that deemed the petition invalid due to a lack of valid signatures after a full verification process. Names were found to be duplicated, and in some cases, simply made up.

According to reports, many who signed the petition were told it would expand recycling in San Jose. In fact, the original petition title was so misleading, the San Jose City Attorney’s Office changed it to state that it would repeal San Jose’s EPS ban.

"Clearly, this was an attempt by the plastics industry to undermine the actions taken by the San Jose City Council," said CAW Executive Director Mark Murray. "Despite the claim that they had obtained double the number of signatures needed to make it to the ballot, this so-called petition couldn’t even make the minimum."

EPS food containers are among the top four items found on coastal clean-up days. Despite claims of its recyclability, EPS is difficult to recycle once contaminated with food waste. It’s also brittle and lightweight—easily broken down and littered in transport. Once in the environment, EPS never fully degrades. Studies have found that chemicals in EPS can leach into both water and sand.

"Over 70 California communities have banned EPS food containers, showing responsible and proactive stewardship of the environment," said Murray. "The fact that so many residents complained about the tactics used by the industry in this effort, coupled with the revelation that so many of the signatures on the petition were deemed invalid should bear out the fact that San Jose residents support the City Council’s actions."

Californians Against Waste is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving resources, preventing pollution and protecting the environment through the development, promotion and implementation of waste reduction and recycling policies and programs.