Despite the fact that the opposition to the ordinance far outweighed the support, the St. Louis Park City Council moved the ‘Zero Waste Packaging’ ordinance forward in St. Louis Park.
The City Council has repeatedly pointed out that they see this measure as just one in a series of sustainability efforts in the city of St. Louis Park. It is not inconsequential that the city has not undergone a waste stream analysis to determine how much polystyrene is in the waste stream, nor if it is a significant enough to warrant a policy that bans it. Because there is a lack of base line data, there is no way to measure the impact of a polystyrene ban.
While we can all appreciate the feelings of good will, understand the products that are defined by the city of St. Louis Park as “zero waste packaging” carry significant cost increases, and in some cases don’t do the job as well as the polystyrene counterpart. This increased, fixed cost of doing business is not irrelevant. Competitiveness matters and consumers have choices. Businesses in St. Louis Park have just been subjected to a mandate that will increase their costs and is not required of their competitors in neighboring communities.
I would also suggest that there is significant work that can be done to educate the businesses and residents on which materials can be recycled and in which bins. Is my container recyclable, compostable or trash? What do the numbers mean? Does the number on my container determine which bin I put it in to ensure it gets into the right place at the recycling center? There are programs and organizations whose mission is to help analyze the waste stream and educate businesses and consumers on reducing and redirecting certain substances in the waste stream as appropriate. A pilot project designed to educate, and preserve consumer and business choice, would have been preferable to an outright ban.