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Foam Packaging and Environment

In their Perspective on the Environment (“Fed a Line, Ronald Goes Green,” Commentary, Nov. 26), Jeffrey Rayport and George Lodge purport to explain how “environmentalists” have misled the public and McDonald’s into abandoning foam-plastic packaging in favor of paper materials. According to Rayport and Lodge, McDonald’s gave in to the whims of its customers who had been “bamboozled” by the “environmental image handlers” who were pursuing their “special-interest agenda.” It is not clear just what agenda Rayport and Lodge are pursuing, but it certainly isn’t concerned with giving the public the facts that they need to make intelligent choices in an admittedly confusing arena. It is especially galling to see these two alleged experts in environmental management set up one bogus argument after another with the sole intent of ridiculing environmentalists who have the temerity to disagree with the polystyrene industry’s party line.

Environmentalists are very well aware of the elimination of CFCs from polystyrene packaging--it was the pressure provided by those very environmentalists that compelled the industry to do so! But what Rayport and Lodge fail to mention are the chemicals that have been substituted for the CFCs. In some cases they are HCFCs, chemicals that are less harmful than regular CFCs to the ozone layer but which are certainly not benign.

Ultimately, everything comes down to choices--and many of those choices are not as simple. While I would certainly agree that government has an important role to play in both regulation and education, there is an equally critical role for citizens to play in making certain that their concerns are addressed.

JIM JENAL

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Clear Air Program Director

Citizens for a Better Environment

Los Angeles


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