Missouri law targets wrong plastic in foam-cooler ban

25 August 2009 23:34  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Missouri legislation aimed at banning foam coolers from state rivers missed the mark when the final version somehow failed to include containers made of polystyrene (PS), a Missouri state senator said on Tuesday.

Republican Senator Delbert Scott, who authored the bill, blamed the political amendment process for a new law that will mistakenly ban only polypropylene-based (PP) containers such as Tupperware – not PS or expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam coolers, as intended.

In fact, the law says that "no person shall possess expanded polypropylene coolers...".

Missouri’s law was modelled after federal regulations in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which cover the Current and Jacks Fork rivers in southeast Missouri.

Those rivers have banned foam containers within 50 feet (15m) of the water since May 2007, and the 2009 version of those regulations avoided any potential plastic confusion by banning both PS and PP containers.

Scott said he originally copied that legislation directly for his bill.

“The original bill I filed had both types of plastic in it,” Scott said. “Somewhere in the amendment process one fell out.”

Scott said the intent of the legislation was to limit floating debris and pollution from abandoned PS-based Styrofoam coolers, while making it more difficult for people on the river to carry large quantities of alcohol.

Lawmakers were reluctant to put Styrofoam into the bill, though, since that is a specific brand name created by Dow Chemical. They primarily intended to ban PS and EPS, which is commonly used to make white foam coolers.

However, that ban was missing in the final bill, where instead lawmakers outlawed PP containers - typically kitchenware.

The law will take effect Friday. It gives Missouri the authority to sentence river goers carrying PP-based containers with up to a year in jail and a $1,000 (€700) fine.

Meanwhile, the state’s water patrol will have no authority to take action against those carrying foam coolers, which was the intent of the legislation.

($1 = €0.70)

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By: Ben DuBose
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