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Should Polystyrene be Banned in Novato?

About 60 communities in California that have instituted a polystyrene ban. Should Novato follow suit? What are your thoughts?

Maybe your first question is, “what is polystyrene?” Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a foam product that is frequently mistaken as Styrofoam and is most commonly used as food and beverage containers such as bowls, trays, cartons, cups and clamshell/hinged containers.  Polystyrene can take up to 500 years or more to naturally decompose.

At our council meeting on Tuesday night, several students from the Youth Leadership Institute addressed the council during our quarterly agenda setting meeting to ask us if we would consider a ban similar to that of San Rafael, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Fairfax and the County of Marin.  In fact, about 60 communities in the state have instituted similar bans.

The students are to be commended for their advocacy on this issue and did an excellent job during public comment by requesting that we put the item on a future agenda.  The council agreed, and will be discussing the topic in the next few months.

What are your thoughts with regards to a ban?  Should Novato adopt an ordinance and if so, how much time should merchants be given before the ban goes into effect?  Are there certain polystyrene uses that should be specifically included or excluded?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tina McMillan February 01, 2013 at 08:44 AM
Eric while I appreciate your bringing up the polystyrene issue as well as Marc Levine working on the plastic bag ban I have to admit with the draft housing element not yet approved for the 2007-2014 cycle and so much at stake with the attempt to reduce density for multifamily housing to the suburban level this article makes me wonder if you are focusing on feel good issues rather than substantive issues. Until we have final approval of the draft housing element I would hope that you would create a dialogue that speaks to the efforts to create balanced housing and a balanced budget. Finding new revenue sources by bringing businesses to Novato that can put sales tax money into city coffers would take the stress off of local residents that bear increased burdens of higher fees for permits, business licenses, and the increased sales tax for Measure F. How do you feel about the 20 unit per acre designation? Will you support the housing element that was submitted in October? Do you see Novato as having created affordable housing opportunities through Rotary, Eden House, Habitat for Humanity and other projects? How much do you focus on issues like these that affect our bottom line?
A.M. Barnard February 01, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Mr. Lucan, I want to THANK YOU for this interesting and informative post. I love how you are highlighting the appearance of several students from the Youth Leadership Institute. I am glad to see a locally elected leader singing the praises of our youth. One of the many challenges of being a city councilmember is recognizing that there are many issues requiring your attention, and I applaud you for not being singularly focused on any one. Bravo, and keep up the good work!
Eleanor Sluis February 01, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Yes, thank you to Eric Lucan and the teenagers who are willing to bring the overuse of plastics issues into the forefront of what is important. Small steps are being taken to inform the public so that when enough people see the complex relationship between the environmental, economical, and political forces they will be better able to make a more common sense decision. My concern is the off-gassing of particulates adding to health issues in children and adults causing pain, expensive remedies and early death. While I favor low-density housing, low traffic exhausts, and excellent schools, it is a breath of fresh air that young adults led by Eric Lucan are studying science, math and the fine arts in order to bring about a better environment. This so connects with the curriculum in schools. It is these young adults who will be better business minded in the future because of their interests in Novato’s environment. Go for it, Kids. Thanks to you and Eric Lucan.
Tina McMillan February 01, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Bob Who knew it was that simple! Where were you when my kids were young and this would have made me the coolest Mom on the block! Peter uses them when he packs books to mail. We recycle everything. I tend to believe that real change happens slowly because much of what we do, we do out of fear rather than reason. Are the corn starch packing peanuts any better or worse for the environment?
Susan Stompe February 03, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Thanks, Eric, for your interest in polystyrene. Please do support banning the use in Novato, as many other jurisdictions in the county have done. As mentioned by some others, please add single use plastic grocery bags as Marin County has done. I heve been involved in our local Earth Day litter clean ups since the early 80's. (This year Clean & Green Day is April 20) Plastics are the most pervasive parts of the litter. They are also the most damaging to the environment. Encourage the students and support the environment by pursuing this issue!

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