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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Something we can do right now about our trash problem? Ban polystyrene

Polystyrene peanuts
Styrofoam, also known as expanded polystyrene, is a type of plastic that can be injected, extruded or blow molded.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Kudos to Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) for their op-ed article on our raging plastic waste problem. Mostly they discussed “profitable” or at least “self-sustaining” recycling, just one of the many heads of the plastic pollution monster.

Another head of the monster, and one I think easier to conquer, is polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam. There is no profit or sustainability in recycling it because it is simply cheaper to make from new, raw plastic pellets than from recycled material. The lion’s share of appliances, furniture, toys and other products come to us packed in this foam.

The solution? Simply ban throwaway polystyrene. That would require outlawing the shipment of imports and domestic products using the material. If we refuse foam-packed shipments, China, South Korea and others will stop using it.

Change for the better isn’t always cheap or profitable, which is what’s keeping this from happening.

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Roger Krenkler, Westlake Village

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To the editor: Thank goodness for Udall and Lowenthal and their recycling bill.

Sometimes I wonder where the recyclables in my green waste bin actually wind up. It occurs to me that in California, where property values and taxes are ridiculously high, recycling should be a well-funded government function. In my lifetime I have seen the reckless proliferation of plastic packaging and containers.

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I am glad this bill addresses the types of plastics used in recycling, but seeing that industry lobbyists are pulling lawmakers’ puppet strings, I don’t foresee manufacturers assuming ownership of recycling responsibilities.

Our taxes are going to have to help save us from this, and as consumers we need to champion the use of additional public funds for recycling technology too. Let’s both reduce plastic packaging and create a real recycling system here in this country.

Bethia Sheean-Wallace, Fullerton


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