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Lodi mayor: Proposed law would close Dart container

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Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:00 am

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.

Sincerely,

Bob Johnson

Mayor

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