[GRRN] Polystyrene

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 14:52:11 -0600

Jeff Bailey has another article in today's Wall Street Journal -- yes THE
Jeff Bailey, "Walking on Eggshells, Polystyrene People Make a Comeback":

"The polystyrene industry is experiencing a revival after
suffering an enormous image crisis in the late 80's due to
pressure from environmentalists. The ultimate blow came when
McDonald's stopped using polystyrene clamshell boxes for its
hamburgers in 1990.
The mass exodus from polystyrene food containers to paper
containers such as cups is beginning to reverse a bit, thanks to
its lower costs and better insulating abilities. The industry
still has to work to combat image problems, however. "People use
our products," said Mike Levy, director of the Polystyrene
Packaging Council. "But they don't like them very much."
One way that the negative environmental image is being
countered is by printing environmental information about
polystyrene on the products themselves or displaying it at the
point of sale. Egg cartons sold at D'Agostino Supermarkets in New
York include information on the environmental benefits of
polystyrene: no CFCs are used, fewer raw materials are required,
and the egg cartons are recyclable. At the Jamba Juice Co. on the
West Coast, where polystyrene cups are used for smoothies, a
pamphlet is displayed called "Who Is Polly Styrene?" that
discusses the case for polystyrene.
Environmentally-concerned consumers still tend to prefer
paper for its biodegradability. The polystyrene industry is
responding by creating a cup made from foam that looks like a
normal paper cup. The cup is thin and has a rolled lip and a
side seam. The cups, produced by Tenneco Inc., cost less than
paper cups, and don't require "double-cupping," according to John
Zinsel, who owns three coffee and tea shops in New Orleans.
Borders Group bookstores began shipping books and CDs in
foam peanuts in 1996, because it saved them over $1 million each
year from the paper padding that they had been using. Virginia
Lyle, environmental affairs manager at Free-Flow Packaging
International Inc., was responsible for educating Borders'
employees about polystyrene packing materials and convincing them
that polystyrene peanuts were not so bad.
The industry now has global sales of about $8.5 billion each
year. It had suffered a sales drop of 15% after the McDonald's
public switch away from the material. Sales are expected to rise
3.4% a year through 2002.
McDonald's is planning to return to clamshell burger boxes
this year, although it is going with a material made by Earth
Shell Corp. The boxes are made from limestone, starch, and other

Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011