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Lodi mayor: Proposed law would close Dart container

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Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:18 am, Tue Jun 21, 2011.

I am alarmed, dismayed and frustrated that the Legislature would even consider a bill that would directly result in nearly 100 of my neighbors losing their jobs.

Your bill, SB 568, would essentially ban polystyrene foam food packaging. This seemingly well-intentioned bill, aimed at helping the environment, is a job-killer that would have a detrimental effect on Lodi’s already fragile economy.

The Senate approved SB 568 on June 2, 2011. If SB 568 becomes law, Dart Container, one of Lodi’s major employers, would be forced to close its doors. Dart Container makes the clamshell-style food containers and cups from the product commonly referred to as Styrofoam that is targeted by the bill. In addition to providing needed jobs, Dart Container is one of the city’s largest taxpayers and one of our municipal electric utility’s largest customers.

The attack on foam packaging in recent years has already reduced employment at Dart’s Lodi plant from 170 to 90. Meanwhile, Dart has done an admirable job of promoting foam recycling and even accepts foam containers at its Lodi plant for recycling.

If SB 568 becomes law, Dart Container will close and the unemployment rate in Lodi will immediately rise from 13.2 percent to 13.5 percent (based on the State’s April 2011 figures), with no hope of those jobs being absorbed elsewhere. The bill does not address how the 90 newest members of unemployment lines will pay their mortgages and rent, buy gasoline and food, and the effect this will have on Lodi’s economy.

In addition to these unanswered questions, SB 568 has several other problems. One of them is it does not differentiate between types of foam packaging. It is the large, bulky foam products that are largely responsible for environmental pollution from expanded polystyrene, not the cups and clamshell containers that are produced by Dart Container. Forcing customers to accept substitute, more-costly food containers that are NOT recyclable (wax-coated paper) and require more energy to produce is not an environmentally responsible alternative.

I urge you to reconsider your stance on SB 568 and withdraw your support of this bill. Our Assembly representative, Alyson Huber, opposes your bill because of the harm it would inflict on this district.

Protecting the environment is a laudable goal, but SB 568 improperly attempts to simplify a complicated issue while harming Lodi’s economy and families.


Bob Johnson


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  • Kevin Paglia posted at 10:48 am on Thu, Jun 23, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2115

    What, is there no one out there who is willing to defend a company that produces toxins that end up right in our food chain?

    Mr Mayor, are you unwilling to defend your letter here? Why?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:01 pm on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    C,mon, mayor, where's your always long winded retort? Why are you council members beside Ms. Mounce so afraid to answer questions on these blogs? Afraid you might incriminate yourselves? What a cowardly bunch, IMO.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 1:18 pm on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Thank you, Kevin, for pointing out the real ramifications of styrofoam. Today many food outlets are using wood/paper recycled containers for food and just plain heavy paper for hot and cold drinks. Do you see any styrofoam coming from Starbucks, House of Coffees, etc.? Johnson the environment is today, not in the future you old goats seem to worry about, besides filling your own pockets. Styrofoam is a hazardous material, dosen't break down and wastes plenty of energy to manufacture. Why can't Dart Container transition over to the new paperlike recyclable containers that are already replacing styrofoam as food and beverage containers? I'm an old goat, too, Johnson, and through my exposure in the construction industry to these contaminants that include styrofoam, I've been diagnosed with lung problems and am currently involved in the mesothelioma class action lawsuit. Quit thinking about yourself for once and maybe consider the future of generations to come environmentally. Your editorial comment shows you seemingly grasping for straws over an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Just like your new gas fired co-generation plant. It sits next to the rusting skeleton of the coal fired plant you and council saiid Lodi so desperately needed to keep electric rates down? That coal fired plant was abandoned when it was too filthy environmentally to operate, and that venture with the NCPA cost hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks again to Larry Hansen, their chairman of the board and the person who has insisted Lodi electric do business with solely. Now you have the gas fired plant that will surely face the same fate as the coal fired plant in the near future. Lodi better hope that this greenhouse, pollution spewing gas fired plant will be able to continue to buy dirty air credits from other agencies or this plant may be mothballed sooner than you think.What's wrong with solar? Are you afraiid residents will opt for their own solar systems and break the bank of the almighty, dysfunctional LEUD and NCPA? Please answer these questions here on the publlic blogs, Johnson? You have a city URL and a computer provided by the city of Lodi, don't you? And an sbc global URL? Or are you, as the honorable (?) mayor of Lodi, too afraid to commit yourself to the public forums?

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:57 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2115

    "Dart has done an admirable job of promoting foam recycling and even accepts foam containers at its Lodi plant for recycling."

    And just how much recycling has been happening at Dart compared to how much is put out? That kind of information might garner a little sympathy from me for the company. Are they are only taking in a small fraction of what they produce? What % of their product is made from the recycled items they get back?

    Reading through Dart's website it sounds much like the tobacco industries "look how good we are doing at promoting healthy living" (http://www.dartcontainer.com/web/environ.nsf/pages/menu). The fact remains that Americans throw away 25 BILLION Styrofoam cups a year (Found by searching "how much Styrofoam is thrown away each year"). That is just cups.

    The industry Dart is in was ranked as a top 5 hazardous material producer in 1986. I couldn't find any current numbers. Maybe someone from Dart who is reading this could explain how they are NOT producing poison any more.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:33 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2115

    I do agree that SB 568 should differentiate between a recyclable product and the non-recyclable product. But a large pant dumping chemicals (per my previous example) or a small plant, they are both adding toxins to the food chain.

    "It is the large, bulky foam products that are **largely** responsible for environmental pollution from expanded polystyrene, not the cups and clam-shell containers that are produced by Dart Container." so, by admission the small stuff adds to the pollution levels as well.

    There are plenty of businesses that have made the change to be environmentally friendlier producers of disposable cups, plates and such. Dart needs to change it's business plan to keep up with current information. That information is that their product is a toxin producer for our environment.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:12 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2115

    I'm sorry, I have little sympathy for the company. Plenty for the people and the families affected but none for the company.

    I was hearing about Styrofoam being bad for the environment 20 years ago. Any smart business would have been aggressively trying to find alternative ways to produce a similar product. You have to question a business built on producing a product that leaches poisons into the ground and into the food chain. If this was a plant dumping the same levels of toxins into our ground water there would be mass outcry at how evil they were, so why do we accept it in small containers?

    Alternatives are out there. I like this one http://www.gizmag.com/mushrooms-new-styrofoam-alternative/16748/

    P.s. look at some of the side links for this article. They are fascinating, from a recycled composite boat to a father and son going cross country on a quad-cycle like mine

  • Jackson Scott posted at 8:51 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Brian, the "wax coated paper products" the jolly Bob Johnson talks about are NOT recyclable. These products are about 15 years old and manufactured by DIXIE. You can find them at Costco, Target, Smart & Final, etc

  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:08 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    And of course we shouldn't forget there are the suppliers of the raw form
    polystyrene to Dart and others who are at stake. Looks like there's more innovation
    than meets the eye. Let's get busy, people. This is America, the land of opportunity.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:41 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Time and time again manufacturers of products have had to make necessary
    changes because government standards have changed. Dart is just another example. I doubt these substitute products Bob Johnson talks about are not recyclable. Something is rotten in Denmark.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:31 am on Tue, Jun 21, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    It seems to me Dart and other manufacturers of this product should qualify
    for some kind of government assistance to be able to transition over to using more
    environmentally material to make containers from. Closing a plant down just because it uses a material that is not enviromentally friendly is ridiculous. Whatever happened to American innovation?


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