Michigan plastics firm behind PA bag protest
Palo Alto’s small business owners did not organize a campaign to oppose the city’s anticipated plastic carryout bag ban, the Weekly has learned.
Instead, the 35 plus form letters opposing the ban which were submitted to the City Clerk’s office March 14 were sponsored by Dart Container Corporation, a Michigan based manufacturer of “single use products” for food service.
“We don’t think there’s a full understanding of what we believe the facts to be,” Dart spokesman Jim Lammers said Thursday. He confirmed his company had sponsored the letter campaign, a tactic it has used in other communities considering bans.
“The issues surrounding the ban are much more nuanced and complicated than I think people realize and the stated goals to be achieved by these bans are not going to be realized by selecting as the target of the ban foam products,” Lammers said.
The form letter, copied and signed by several dozen merchants, does not indicate it stems from Dart.
In fact, many employees who signed the opposition letters barely remembered doing so.
Ironically, such small merchants wouldn’t even be affected by a city proposed plastic bag ban, according to Phil Bobel, the rolex watches city’s environmental compliance manager. It would only affect large groceries and pharmacies.
Some local employees who signed the letter genuinely said they believe plastic bags or foam containers are critical to their businesses. Others said they had limited information and just signed because t rolex watches hey were asked to by the Dart representative, a woman who visited restaurants and food stores on California Avenue, at Stanford Shopping Center, at Town Country Village and along University Avenue in early March.
A man also brought the letter to hotels along El Camino Real.
It is addressed to the City Council and begins: “I AM AGAINST A BAN ON POLYSTYRENE FOODSERVICE CONTAINERS AND PLASTIC BAGS.”
Mladen Lucich, a manager at Michael’s Gelato Caf, and James Choi, a manager at Teuscher Palo Alto, said the woman who asked them to sign was from Dart Container.
“I’m sure that’s the company,” Lucich said.
He said he signed “to be nice to her.”
Michael’s Gelato Caf on University Avenue, a family business, will be able to adjust to whatever rule the city sets, he said.
Choi said he was told the ban would affect the packages for Teuscher’s chocolates.
“Until she brought this up, I had on idea what was going on,” Choi said. “When they come to rolex watches us with a one sided case, you sign it.”
One signee from a downtown restaurant, who asked to remain anonymous, said he didn’t have strong feelings about a ba rolex watches n on plastic bags of polystyrene containers.
“But she asked me a couple times, so I said, ‘Sure.'”
A manager at a local hotel, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “I signed something about plastic cups, but I can’t remember. We use plastic cups, that’s why I signed it.”
David King, manager of Su Hong Eatery, confirmed he had signed the letter.
“I just thought that was what the city wanted. I don’t really care,” he said.
Jugal Shah, who works at the front desk at Palo Alto’s Comfort Inn, said a man told him he wouldn’t be able to use cups for coffee.
“He was, like, ‘It’s going to ruin my business,'” Shah said.
Other signees do want to keep plastic bags and Styrofoam containers around.
“Ninety nine percent of people come in wanting bags,” Spot A Pizza Place Manager Vu Tran said. “I don’t see why not give them bags. It’s convenient. How are you going to hold four sodas if you don’t have a bag?”
The Polish Deli’s founder Martin Klosek said that many of his customers already bring their own bags but that eliminating plastic bags entirely would be expensive.