News

City Council votes to ban styrofoam containers

While its use is nearly phased out in the environmentally conscious Bay Area, not everyone was in agreement about the evils of polystyrene Tuesday night when the City Council voted to ban most uses of the packaging material within Mountain View's borders.

With a 4-2 council vote on Feb. 11, Mountain View joined Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Palo Alto and many other Bay Area cities in banning disposable food containers made of expanded polystyrene, also known as styrofoam. Members John Inks and John McAlister were opposed and Mike Kasperzak was absent.

The ban is set to take effect July 1, making it illegal for restaurants and other food outlets to distribute or sell disposable foam polystyrene plates, cups and containers. The inclusion of reusable ice chests in the ban spurred McAlister to vote no.

Expanded polystyrene will remain legal for "prepackaged food" and businesses can apply for a one-year exemption to use overstocked supplies or if the ban places an economic hardship on them.

Council member Inks opposed the ban, saying that the material was "unfairly persecuted" and a "wonderful packaging material. The economy and utility of styrofoam, it's very, very amazing." He admitted that it is also the hardest material to clean from local creeks.

Proponents of the ban noted that it is a unique pollutant, breaking down into small pieces that are easily blown around by the wind, mistaken for food by animals and taking many years to decompose.

"The bottom line with styrofoam is you are producing something that will be (in the environment) forever and there are perfectly acceptable alternatives to it," said council member Ronit Bryant. Bryant said the opposition to the ban was essentially saying, "It's really convenient for me to use styrofoam and that's the only thing that matters."

Mountain View senior analyst Cynthia Palacio said alternatives to polystyrene packaging made of paper and recyclable plastic are less harmful to the environment and cost only "a few cents more." She reported that a polystyrene cup can take over 50 years to biodegrade, while pieces can be mistaken for food by animals and marine life, causing disease and death.

Over 75 cities and counties have banned or restricted polystyrene in California, she added. Concern about such a ban in Mountain View has been minimal: a total of only three people showed up to two information meetings about the ban last summer.

Council candidate Jim Neal, who has publicly opposed every ban the city has implemented in the last few years, questioned the styrofoam ban from numerous angles and accused the council of "banning things just to ban them."

"When was the last time you heard of any animal choking to death on polystyrene?" Neal asked, adding that he couldn't find any evidence of such an animal death in Mountain View. "As far as it not being recyclable, guess what? It is. It's recycled right here in Mountain View."

Neal got an immediate response to his comments by the author of the ban, San Jose's environmental services specialist Paul Ledesma.

"Food-contaminated (styrofoam) materials are absolutely unrecyclable," Ledesma told the council.

The one local facility that is equipped to recycle polystyrene won't take them, he said. "It gets landfilled. None of it gets recycled. It is a unique pollutant. It breaks down, it doesn't go away. It is mistaken by marine life for food."

The effects are "widely documented on the web and not hard to find," Ledesma said.

Before the ban can be implemented a second vote is required, which is scheduled for March 25.

This story has been edited to clarify the type of polystyrene in the ban.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Hey Jim Neal, sounds like it's about time you look for another job...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I totally agree with Jim Neal, this council and others in other cities are just flexing their muscles on the banning band wagon.

What's next, sodas? Potato Chips?

Lets do everything possible to make business fail, should be the new motto for the council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Good work MV Council,

You are not always so decisive, but this one was the right thing to do, and put common sense and data ahead of a very tired 'convenience' rationale. Styrofoam is not just a litter issue, but also linked to many toxic by-products.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:24 pm

A friend who was working on his PhD in Marine Biology told me, twenty years ago, that water samples from every part of the globe contain particles of polystyrene.

Yes Mr. Inks the reason it's so amazing is that it's practically indestructible. Decades after it's disposed of.

Sounds like Mr. Inks, McAlister, and Neal failed to do their homework and inform themselves about this pollutant before the meeting. A 5-minute google search would have been sufficient.

Now that there are so many recyclable and decomposable packaging materials, there's really no excuse to continue using polystyrene. Glad to see that MV is joining the 75 municipalities that have already caught on to this concept.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

This is good news! Why use a harmful chemical to package our foods when there are alternatives available?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

This article is pretty accurate on balance. The only things that I would add is that the CEQA study used for this ban, focused on San Jose litter and found that in no case was the styrofoam more than 3.5% of all the large litter found. What that means in real numbers is that out of 1000 items, only 35 would be some form of styrofoam. In the only year that had totals, there were just under 8000 items found in 48 sites, so the total number of styrofoam items would be about 280. This means that they found less than 6 items per site and for this we need to ban it EVERYWHERE?

The study also mentions one manufacturer that would provide the replacement containers; admitting that the new materials would cost 15% to 20% more. Of course these increased costs will be passed on to the customers and would have a disproportionate impact on those with low income.

It is also correct that I haven't yet seen a ban that I've liked. In order to implement a ban, the City uses it's police powers, which I think should only be used as a last resort. I am a huge believer in freedom of choice and I think that any time the people have choices made for them by the state (or city), the people always lose. I also think that people are smart enough to make these choices for themselves and that the littering problem could have been addressed with public education and outreach.


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link
info@electneal.org


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Will Vote
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

@Jim Neal:
"I am a huge believer in freedom of choice and I think that any time the people have choices made for them by the state (or city), the people always lose."

By that logic people should be free to decide how fast they should drive in a school zone. I mean, people are smart enough to make the right choice for themselves as you said.

This illuminates the problem of people using ideology to base their decisions on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Once again our City Council wishes to take out the big stick and tell us whats good for us.
Do they really not believe that we as consumers can make an informed decision.
I personally do not use any form of styrofoam cup or container.
The free market and consumers concerns will tell stores and restaurants what to use.
Most,not all of this council are amateurs and the sooner Bryant,Abi-Koga ,Kasperzak & Siegel are termed out the better. Just my opinion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Will vote -- What ideology is involved in styrofoam? Also, you are conflating issues. Whether or not to use styrofaom is a personal choice. How fast to drive in a school zone is an issue of safety and therefore an appropriate use of the aforementioned police powers. I based my opinion on logic and on the numbers I mentioned and you can feel free to disagree.


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RobG
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 12, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I do not need Council to tell me whats good for me or the environment . I can make my own choices.
I can see that these containers don't seem to degrade as well other products.I do not need amateur (as posted earlier) politicians running my life.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm

How will I take out my Chinese food when they do not give me a box? They give me a Styrofoam container, like they do in 'Lucky'. So now what will they and other restaurants use for take out when not put into those small container boxes?

What will be banned next? Bring food home from eateries!!! Are we becoming Communistic where government takes full control of everything???


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Spellcheck
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Who edits these articles?
"implemeted"
"infromation"

(by the time you read this, hopefully they've fixed the article)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.


"...disposable food containers made of polystyrene, also known as styrofoam."

Mr. DeBolt, that is a BADLY misleading, chemically inaccurate statement, whose implications then ripple through later wording in the article.

Polystyrene is the general word for the polymerized version of styrene, a liquid starting material. Polystyrene embraces hard clear or colored plastics used widely in toys, bottles, plastic drinkware, and plastic cutlery.

Styrofoam is Dow Chemical's trade name for a FOAMED variant of polystryene containing gas bubbles, naturally white, soft, and insulating -- unlike basic polystyrene. It's used for disposable coffee cups and clamshell containers for take-out food. Web Link

I hope the City Council was attentive to the distinction, in passing this new ordinance, but the current article is not. Please clarify: was the ordinance directed at styrofoam containers, or all polystyrene (which would have vastly broader implications)?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

To Max Hauser,
Please don't require Mr DeBolt to understand what he is writing about.
He would have to understand the issues and write unbiased articles…..good golly,imagine having to write an unbiased article


 +   Like this comment
Posted by We could argue all day
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

The bottom line is 3 people showed up to oppose this, and one of them is a tried and true anti-ban guy who's gonna show up regardless.

There is truly nothing to see here. I might have concern if a bunch of people showed up to explain some hardship, but in reality, 3 people showed up to say they didn't like it.
I don't mean to minimize their opposition, but clearly we shouldn't spend much more energy on this. Its pretty clear what MV (minus 3) wants.
Onward to the future!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lori Topley
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm

A few clarifications to the article. The ordinance relates to expanded polystyrene products, commonly known as foam or "Styrofoam". A prohibition on the sale of foam ice chests was included in the ordinance. The second vote on the Ordinance will be on March 25, not February 25. This will allow additional time to notice retailers about the included prohibition on sales of foam food service ware and ice chests. Expanded polystyrene (including foam food ware, blocks and peanuts) is not accepted for recycling in Mountain View.

Lori Topley
Solid Waste Program Manager
City of Mountain View


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@wecouldargueallday -- If that is something that Mountain View truly wants, why not put it to a vote? I would have no problem with it is the democratic process was followed in these cases. My main problem, as stated a couple of times before, is the use of police powers to impose things on us that we may or may not want. What will you do when they want to ban something that is useful to you or that you do care about?


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council


 +   Like this comment
Posted by EMK
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I think Jim Neal makes a good point, regarding our freedom to choose. These cups are commonly used at church, or group socials, because of their low cost and the way their structure keeps the liquid hot or cold.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barney Rubble
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Some people here -- including Mr. Neal -- don't seem to understand what government is. It's an organization created by a group of individuals to promote order in society, with the intent of serving the greater good of the group.

There are reasons why there's a vehicle code, why people aren't allow to drive 100mph by elementary schools, why pouring used motor oil in a storm drain is illegal, why selling people for slave labor has been halted, why you can't use lead paint/asbestos, etc. Individual choice for every single thing you do in your life is not a God given right, not when your actions affect other people, creatures, and this planet's future inhabitants.

There is evidence that typical styrofoam consumer usage negatively impacts this planet's health. It's not about convincing every single individual in Mountain View; it's about the group (the voting public) as a whole.

Mr. Neal is entitled to his opinion, but as a representative of the people, he needs to recognize that he was elected by a constituency who only sent *THREE* people to styrofoam container ban hearings last year. We don't need to make this an expensive ballot measure, the electorate has already voted in this case by selecting council members who act on the voter's behalf. There is nothing in recent public behavior by Mountain View residents that indicates that Mr. Neal represents a large swath of voters who are against this styrofoam ban.

The discussion about cost is ridiculous. This is pennies per container; large fast food chains have all moved away from this type of packaging.

Mountain View didn't collapse when plastic bags were banned. Note that many countries have banned plastic bags, including places like Bangladesh (which 86-ed them in 2002).

To Mr. Neal:

I request that you go to any nearby beach and clean up any visible styrofoam debris, basically anything larger than a BB gun pellet. Go to the high tide line and start there. When you have found everything where you're sitting, dig up the sand, there's probably stuff buried an inch or two below. Once you have completed that, move ten feet to the left, then ten feet to the right. You will be there for days. With each high tide, new garbage will float in. Pick that stuff up too. Continue this on a weekly basis until there is no trash in your little domain.

And while you are sifting through the cigarette butts (cellulose acetate + various carcinogens), juice container pull tabs, plastic bags, beer cans, nylon rope strands, etc., please think carefully about who you represent and what you were elected to do. When you are free of ridding the beach of styrofoam debris and cigarette butts, feel free to post again.

Thank you.

P.S., local Surfrider chapters have regular beach cleanups.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm

@Barney Rubble, pardon the pun but YOU ROCK!

We need more like you on the city council. Thank you for your most informative post.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sky Not Falling
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 13, 2014 at 6:54 am

Jim, putting everything to a community vote is costly and unneeded.
If people don't care enough to show up the the council meeting, why do you think they would care enough to show up for a vote. The costs and monetary waste involved would be irresponsible. 3 people showed up and just because their side did not win the argument, this calls for a public vote? Good lord, with that thinking MV will go bankrupt in a year's time. I smell a road blocker. If you're elected would you support such a wasteful vote, spending all that city money in a last ditch effort just to try and get your way, esp when the citizenry does not seem to mind one bit? Maybe that recycling plant in MV you were so confused about could help fund this election? Kidding, most EVERYONE know you could not recycle this stuff...most anyway.
You seem to be fighting for a principal rather than evaluating this particular issue. Are you a Tea Party member?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by @ Yeah
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2014 at 7:14 am

Yeah Council. It is the right thing to do. Although it might not be the biggest element in the landfill, it is the thing that takes the longest to decompose. It takes 100 years just to get into dust, and another nearly 1,000,000 years to actually decompose.

Thank you, Council, for doing the right thing, even when it is hard and unpopular with some!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

The inclusion of banning reusable ice chests in this new ban does not make sense, these last for many years if not decades, and is an over reach.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

What did they do before styrofoam? Yes they little coffee cups weren't bad, now you find styrofoam everywhere.

Manage a apartment building, deal with trash and recycling containers, it is scaring how much you will find. Then deal with recycling cans that are full of styrofoam peanuts, they will not pick up and into the garbage it goes.

Worse yet deal with knocked over garbage cans with smashed large pieces of styrofoam all over place.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by StyroBad
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm

"The inclusion of reusable ice chests in the ban spurred McAlister to vote no."

This is goofy. By "reusable ice chest", I believe they are referring to those cheap white styrofoam boxes that easily fall apart. The real ice coolers / ice chests that are made of molded plastic and are sturdy, washable and much better insulated would not be banned. They are also inexpensive.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by So what do we do
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

So what do we do with all the styrofoam that comes in packages?

"There is evidence that typical styrofoam consumer usage negatively impacts this planet's health. It's not about convincing every single individual in Mountain View; it's about the group (the voting public) as a whole. "

Hmm, might as well ban everything that man does, since there is huge evidence for global warming too. RIGHT? This has nothing to do with the health of the plant, but the will of a others to take away as much convenience from the people as possible. And make life more expensive in the end.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eeeasy Big fella
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

"Hmm, might as well ban everything that man does, since there is huge evidence for global warming too. RIGHT?"

No. That would be something very silly to do and someone who thinks that's the only logical alternative or the path we're on is either not able to grasp what is really going on, or is paranoid, in my opinion only.

"This has nothing to do with the health of the plant, but the will of a others to take away as much convenience from the people as possible."

So to be clear, you think the people behind this have an ultimate agenda to make life...inconvenient for people??? Just checking...I mean you wrote it.
I'm putting more stock in my opinion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barney Rubble
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

@So what do we do:

You start by picking the low-hanging fruit. Disposable styrofoam food containers are targeted because they are an easy thing to replace with more environmentally conscious materials. Getting rid of styrofoam products like shipping containers and peanuts will take more time.

Same thing with the incandescent light bulb ban. You get rid of the consumer grade bulbs and let people continue to buy incandescent specialty bulbs (e.g., appliance lights), but you get rid of the low-hanging fruit.

In order to run a marathon, you start as a toddler by taking ONE step. No one is asking society to cross the NO STYROFOAM finish line right now.

Change in society often comes in small steps, like banning cigarette smoking. These add up over time, and sometimes they grow to become regional, national, or international movements.

Today's cars generate a fraction of airborne pollutants as cars from decades ago because once upon a time, some people in one area got together and passed a law enforcing tighter emissions.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barney
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Is that why it costs us Californians 1200 dollars to have a catalytic converter replaced? When all around the country they sell for 120 dollars.

This is what environmentalists are doing. And the pollution is not at all better now than it was back then. Matter of fact it is probably worse.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by dc
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 14, 2014 at 9:09 pm

So the fishing boats are free to keep using S-foam and so are TV boxes and Amazon and house insulation? As we hear recycle does not always work. It costs money to reuse things. More often they are just sent away to China in the name of recycled. How ever the technology to process all this unwanted waste is here. Europe is years ahead on this (they have filled all the landfills) Web Link.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Look at the charts
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 15, 2014 at 7:11 am

" And the pollution is not at all better now than it was back then. Matter of fact it is probably worse."

You could have said, I have no clue about what I'm trying to claim here, but I'm really hoping that the air quality is worse because it will help with my argument.

Guss what though...air quality in CA is very much better than it as in the 70's-80's. Look it up. You need to change your argument if you want to rail against all those evil environmentalists.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I have one word for you: FUKUSHIMA.

Everything else is spit in the wind.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nikonbob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Thank you Old Ben for bringing your usual lack of clarity into the discussion.

And McCallister voting no because he wants his cheap styrofoam cooler? How many of those end up broken in parks and at beaches, only to end up in the water to choke wildlife that think it's food. Foolish indeed.

Then Neal doesn't like a seriously harmful object being banned because he doesn't want to be told what he can and can't do. What, are you 12 years old?

This is the only planet we have, and if there are so many fools that don't care enough about it to take care of these problems themselves, then we need government to step in.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hot Side Hot
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Remember when 1/4er Pounders and Big Macs came in styrofoam containers. McDonales decided the right idea was to "ban" them from their restaurants....like 20 year or so ago.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Sometime I eat a Big Mac, you know it didn't impacted me in any way. I know with more use it equaled more piles of styrofoam. Plastic bags and styrofoam littered our countryside, I remember to pull tabs from soda and beer can.

You think it was the end of the world. Aerosol cans, leaded paint and gas, the end of asbestos. People thought it was the end of the world. We will do fine without styrofoam containers, we did for 2000 years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Also want to point out I was at first opposed to certain things. One thing we could do without, those 6 pack can holders, you know that keep the cans together. Nothing worse then seeing wildlife or a animal caught up in one


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Curious Observer
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Curious Observer is a registered user.

Yay City Council! First plastic bags, now styrofoam. If you're really concerned with the enviroment you won't stop there...now ban cigarettes, chewing gum, plastic water bottles (large and small), disposal diapers...the list is endless. Keep up the good work!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Whino
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

...there will be whiners


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 22, 2014 at 8:21 am

Speaking of pollution: Can't wait for a city ordinance banning tree hugging hippies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tissue
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm

...and there will be snivelers too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm

So how do we ban all the out of state packaging material sent to Mtn View? You are preventing consumers and retailers from reusing/ recycling them. Armed guards to remove the Styrofoam peanuts from all delivery trucks. How will we dispose of them? Secret Society G men to dispose of them?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 23, 2014 at 6:45 am

No Mark, you don't have to worry about any of that. You simply put it in the trash. I know its contrary to your environmental concerns, but that is the only resort at this time. Since the trash heap is always the end result of this toxic and non-recycled material, its good that we at least remove the local source of it.
All this was discussed earlier though.
Is your goal to remove every occurrence of the toxic material in MV? That won't/can't happen with just local action, but as the national shift away from this material continues, reductions will take place over time.
Just look at how many styrofoam big mac containers you used to see all over until McDonald's banned them (20 years ago). I still see the paper McTrash, but that degrades in a season.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Barney Rubble -- Why should I take that kind of time to clean up litter that I did not create? It is my opinion that the vast majority of people here care about the environment and therefore it is bans such as this that are wasteful of time and resources.

You also went out of your way to ignore that I have pointed out several times my opposition to the use of Police Powers for minor issues such as this, and you ignored the fact that I have made clear differences between using police powers for safety related reasons such as the ones you mentioned, and using them because the government thinks we are too stupid to do the right thing. If you want to waste your time picking up random trash on the beaches, feel free to do so. And as far as you telling me what to do, and when and what I can post, as you pointed out, slavery is over.

You also mention the government banning incandescent bulbs, but neglected to mention that they replaced them with bulbs containing mercury that are so much worse that they CAN'T be thrown away and must be specially recycled! And if you break one... well it was nice knowing you!

It's too bad that you only want to seem to twist my words and take them out of context for such a small issue as this when there are for more important issues facing the city such as creating Affordable Housing, Preserving Neighborhoods and Parking and Traffic issues. I can only imagine why.

If this is the one issue that you are willing to hang your hat on and don't care about anything else that is going on in Mountain View, then I'm not your candidate. I have tried to make what I consider to be reasonable arguments and I know that some such as yourself will probably never agree with me on this issue, but it seems to me that you and many of my opponents would rather engage in ad hominem attacks than have a true debate.

I have noticed that in politics, people do that a lot when they are afraid that someone will change the status quo. They tend to focus the arguments on the minutiae so that people have trouble seeing the big picture!

The big picture for me is that I will continue to try to preserve small businesses in Mountain View, especially those that are integral to their communities, fight for more affordable housing, and preservation of quality of life in neighborhoods to the extent possible. Do you have problems with those too?

Jim Neal
Candidate, City Council
Web Link
info@electneal.org


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Years ago we use to just dump in the bay, out of sight and out of mind. The light bulb thing was crazy which the old were fine until suitable replacement could be found.

The idea policing public safety comes with more people and less common sense.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ummm
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm

" And if you break one... well it was nice knowing you!"

Jim Neil do you believe breaking one of those light bulbs will cause a person death? Do you truly believe that, or do you sometimes exaggerate to make a point. Many here do, and that's fine. I'm just concerned you might be misguided or misinformed again like you were thinking styrofoam was being recycled here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Ummmm -- I was indeed using hyperbole to make a point.

As to the Styrofoam issue, I am right about that. It is on Green Citizen's website here:

Web Link

And they DO have a location in Mountain View. So I guess I am better informed. As I keep repeating, everything I said was taken directly from the 200 plus page study that was done, but it seems that people would rather bash me than read the study for themselves. It is on the City's website and available to all.


Jim Neal
Candidate, City Council


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Ummm -- By the way, here is what the EPA says to do if one of the CFL (Mercury filled) lightbulbs breaks:


Web Link


Before Cleanup
Have people and pets leave the room.
Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
stiff paper or cardboard;
sticky tape;
damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During Cleanup
DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag. See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup
Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
If you have further questions, please call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Actions you can take to prevent broken compact fluorescent light bulbs
Information from other sources relating to the accidental breakage of CFLs
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Why is it important to clean up a broken CFL properly?
CFLs and other fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described on this page.
Top of page

What if I can't follow all the recommended steps? or I cleaned up a CFL but didn't do it properly?
Don't be alarmed; these steps are only precautions that reflect best practices for cleaning up a broken CFL. Keep in mind that CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury -- less than 1/100th of the amount in a mercury thermometer.
However, if you are concerned about your health after cleaning up a broken CFL, consult your local poison control center by calling 1-800-222-1222. You can call your center any time you have questions or in an emergency.

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Very simple huh?


Jim Neal


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Posted by Recycled Link
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:02 pm

@Jim Neal - According to the web link you provided, Green Citizen seems to recycle only a certain type of styrofoam used for packaging.... not any form of styrofoam used for food (what the City is proposing to ban).

"We can only accept white, unmarked Styrofoam. We cannot accept colored Styrofoam or Styrofoam that has been used for food, but only EPS (expanded polystyrene)."


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Recycled Link -- And down the rabbit hole we go. More minutiae. The fact is they do recycle styrofoam here in Mountain View, and there are other centers that recycle the food containers as long as they are washed.
I think I have proved my point that it does not matter how many facts I use, some people just want to focus on the little things instead of the big picture.


Jim Neal


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Posted by Recycled Link
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:44 pm

@Jim Neal - Great, I'm all for recycling. Can you share with the public where you go to recycle your styrofoam materials?


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2014 at 8:25 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@recycled link -- I don't buy very many food items that use styrofoam because I buy most of my food fresh, but when I do, I keep them and reuse them as lunch containers. They are very handy!


Jim Neal


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Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

@Jim Neal: Why don't you just admit you were wrong? I can accept a candidate who is wrong on occasion. I can't accept a candidate who will never admit fault, who is impervious to facts and reason, who will never correct course. That's a much bigger issue to me than a styrofoam ban.

According to the article, the ban is on "disposable foam polystyrene plates, cups and containers". You opposed the ban because they are recyclable in Mountain View . But Mountain View's solid waste program manager said otherwise in the comments above. She would know. You said Green Citizen would recycle them. You were wrong. Now you're suggesting there are other places but won't name them. I don't believe you.


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@ Scott Lamb -- Obviously you haven't read my comments. I opposed the ban because I oppose the use of police powers for frivolous things like this. If you prefer the use of police powers to ban everything you don't like or don't find useful, that is fine. As I keep saying over and over again, police powers should only be used for matters of safety and not because the someone in government thinks we are to stupid to do the "right" thing.

As I also, said it is apparent that some people prefer to obfuscate this issue with meaningless minutiae so that bigger issues such as affordable housing, neighborhood preservation, and parking and traffic are ignored.

Those are the issues that I care about and those are the ones on which my campaign will be focused.

Jim Neal


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Posted by Recycled Link
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

@Jim Neal - I agree there are bigger issues than this common sense styrofoam ban. Maybe time to move away from trash talking (pun intended)?


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Slater
on Feb 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Polystyrene foam or Styrofoam is 100% recyclable. I think it is an embarrassment that Mountain View with its apparently lofty ideals doesn't have a recycling program but instead takes the draconian measure to just ban it. My company actually has recycling bins for the stuff so we can recycle all the foam that computers, monitors, and other equipment comes packaged in.

With McDonald's in the 1990's McDonald's was running a pilot recycling program in one or more areas but the howl became so great that McDonalds shutdown the recycling program and ditched the Polystyrene foam recycling for the laminated paper and cardboard that they use today. I had a friend that was a packaging engineer at the time and he stated that it was ironic because the foam was 100% recyclable but the laminated paper was not. The screams from certain so called environmentalists was so shrill and loud that McDonalds caved in and got rid of the recyclable foam for the unrecyclable laminated paper.

I think people (adults) can make their own decisions in respect to what container they want to take their left-overs or take-out food in. When you have the Gov't taking from people the rather mundane decision as to what container they can use for left-over containers or what type of bag you can get from the store it smacks of gov't over-reach and tyranny. Obviously these decisions are made by a gov't of elitists who think such decisions can't be left to the poor stupid common man to make. It rests on the thinking that these decisions are beyond us (the people) to make and have to be enforced through the law because we can't be entrusted with the decision between "paper or plastic" or "Doggy bag or Styrofoam" as the case might be. It's a wonder that they even allow us to vote considering the contempt for the public displayed by these edicts. As far as I'm concerned, make your arguments for me not to select styrofoam containers but don't take away my right to choose. Are these micromanagement like measures necessary because your arguments are lacking? If your arguments are so persuasive, why do you have to force people to comply?


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Posted by Nope.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Everything is 100 pct recyclable. The question is that can it be done safely and economically. Answer is no with regards to styrofoam food containers.


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Posted by Forward from here
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 26, 2014 at 6:08 am

Seems every time the pro foam side chimes in they loose more ground in the argument. Its good affirmation that the ban was correct.


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