McLibel Trial Testimony on Polystyrene

Monday, 11th July 1994

Judge: Mr. Justice Bell

McDonald's Corporation

McDonald's Restaurants Limited (Plaintiffs)
Helen Marie Steel and David Morris (Defendants)

10th day of the proceedings

Brian G. Lipsett, organizing director of the Environmental Background Information Center was a research analyst for the Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste from 1987 to 1992. From October 1987 to November 1990 the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (CCHW) coordinated a nationwide grassroots campaign (the McToxics campaign) against McDonald's to get them to stop using foam food packaging. The goal of the McToxics campaign was to eliminate their use of foam food packaging.

McToxics Campaign History and Styrofoam Bans

McDonald's was identified by Grassroots groups as an extravagant user of foam food packaging. These leaders were aware McDonald's was using the foam food package primarily through the company's own promotional advertising that called attention to the foam food package as a marketable component of their product. McDonald's became known as the largest single user of the styrofoam food package.

The foam campaign was essentially related to an effort by local community activists and community groups to link in the public mind the issues of manufacturing and disposal. So that when we deal with a particular product, when we think about in the public sense a particular product, we understand that we are not just talking about the use of the product in the middle of its life-span, but we are also talking about the manufacturing process that goes on at the beginning of the product's life-span, and an understanding of problems associated with that product once it has passed its useful lifetime.

The idea was to bring this kind of issue into the public view and McDonald's, because of its own profligate use of foam food packaging, became the target because of its widely recognized name, its use through advertising of the foam food packaging and the identification of this type of foam packaging as an extremely useless and dangerous product.

First McToxics Protests: Vermont

The original, first action by a local community group involved in the McToxics campaign occurred on August 1, of 1987. I think that is a significant date. On August 1, 1987 McDonald's restaurants in certain communities in Vermont were picketed by local community activists from an organization called Vermonters Organized for Clean Up.

Four of the communities that passed orders to bar the use of foam:

Packaging Industry Fights Back as Companies & Communities Ditch Foam

A group of organizations associated with food packaging manufacture sued Suffolk County, New York, to stop them from carrying out the foam ban.

The vice president of McDonald's Shelby Yastrow in 1989, during a meeting with members of CCHW, passed on a copy of a list about five pages long of local municipalities across the country engaged in or carrying out or considering the use of foam food packaging bans.

Besides that, in 1990 the Society of the Plastics Industry circulated a document internally a confidential memo that CCHW found. It said 49 or 50 states in the United States were considering or had enacted restrictions on foam food packaging or certain types of food packaging, plastic food packaging.

Many corporations during this period announced that they were going to cease using foam food packaging. Caesar's Pizza, Wendy's, and Burger King released public comments about their decisions not to use foam as a food packaging material in their food services. The coast guard announced that they would not use foam food packaging on their ships. The United States Park Service announced they would not use foam food packaging in their cafeterias and restaurants on park land.

There were at least 3 stages to the way in which McDonald's responded to the campaign.

The plastics industry came to McDonald's aid in promoting the value of the food packaging product through various public relations efforts and advertising efforts that were national in scope. McDonald's itself relied upon the same kind of technique internally by having people respond to phone calls about foam. Lorna Ersam is an example of somebody whom McDonald's used to respond to these concerns as they were raised in the public and through the news media.

Lorna Ersam is identified in various accounts as a public relations specialist for McDonald's Corporation.

In the initial stages, McDonald's relied on various types of public relations techniques to deal with public concern. It later modified these techniques at the time or immediately following a meeting in 1989 in which Shelby Yastrow met with representatives of CCHW at a hotel in Washington, D.C. to discuss the foam issue.

Then, Yastrow agreed to 2 things:

As a response to that, the Clearinghouse agreed we would not picket the opening of their 10,000th restaurant in Dale City, Virginia, which McDonald's had planned to use with a great deal of fanfare. So, at that point the Clearinghouse and foam activists agreed not to picket that restaurant openly.

After the opening of the restaurant and following Mr. Yastrow's return, McDonald's Corporation refused to meet with local community activists. So in the second stage McDonald's acknowledged at least that the Clearinghouse was an organization that existed and had a viable issue that it was trying to put on the table and, in response, McDonald's offered to recycle foam.

The experience that we had with McDonald's up to that point led us to believe that through their recycling (or McRecycling) program, McDonald's was pursuing another public relations ploy. It may even be a hoax; if it was not a hoax, it was probably going to be unworkable, but in spite of that, it would be worth showing in some fashion that McDonald's was planning to recycle foam.

Prior to the third day of action which was on Earth Day in 1989 -- the Clearinghouse circulated peel-off labels of the address of Shelby Yastrow at its corporate headquarters in Illinois and called on members to mail foam food packaging to McDonald's corporate headquarters to Shelby Yastrow, so they would be able to better afford, because of the volume, to recycle foam.

Consequently, many local groups around the nation responded by mailing foam to McDonald's Corporation headquarters to Shelby Yastrow. That action was called Operation Send It Back. We understood from anonymous sources that there was a great deal of foam packaging piling up in McDonald's mail room. It is also true that in various accounts published in the media Shelby Yastrow acknowledged McDonald's had received foam, but it is essentially true that Mr. Yastrow denied the degree to which we believed the foam was reaching McDonald's headquarters through the mail.

The campaign ended in 1990, in November, shortly after McDonald's announced they would no longer be using styrofoam food packages; they were going to virtually eliminate all their foam food packaging within a certain period.

Grassroots leaders around the country concurred that McDonald's had complied with the central issue in the campaign. They had withdrawn their use of foam food packaging from the US market. There were concerns raised at the time (and maintained to this day) that McDonald's did this only in the United States, primarily, that it was probably going to continue to use foam food packaging elsewhere.

At least in Germany in 1991 in Bavaria they were using foam food packaging. Through various accounts it is apparent they continue to use foam food packaging elsewhere in the world as well to this day.

They probably had not withdrawn the foam in other parts of the world because McDonald's did not come under the same kind of pressure in other countries that the McToxics campaign placed on McDonald's in the United States. If that campaign had never existed, McDonald's would probably continue to be using styrofoam food packaging in the United States as well.

Polystyrene Production, Hazardous Chemicals & Worker Safety

The scientific name for styrofoam is polystyrene foam. There are a variety of polystyrene foams in use. One is for food packaging.

The first part of the process is extraction. Polystyrene foam is based on several petroleum derivatives. Petroleum derivatives comes from crude oil extracted from the earth. That process of extracting these materials from the earth produces waste, some of which is now coming under increasing scrutiny in the United States because of its hazardous nature, so-called oil field waste; at that point of extraction there are problems associated with the mining or extraction of petroleum chemicals, crude oil.

Once crude oil has been extracted, it is necessary to crack it, to split it into various components, then subsequently to recombine various products in controlled reactions; so that in manufacturing polystyrene foam, you need to rely on certain chemical precursors, benzene or ethyl benzene. From that point, styrene, and from there you create polystyrene.

The processes are very technical to describe and they are encompassed in a variety of literature, particularly literature associated with food packaging. The Encyclopedia of Food Packaging is an example of such. Page 540 is the page that refers to the variations in the manufacture of foam. It refers to different types of foam packaging that are also elaborated in other materials that are in the McToxics fact pack. It describes with some clarity in a brief sense the nature of manufacturing of foam.

The manufacturing process of styrofoam produces several wastes, identified in research conducted by the Federal Government in 1987, Minimization of Hazardous Waste Report (1986 October).

No. 4 on that list is ethylene
No. 5 on that list, polystyrene/ABS.
No. 6 is Benzene.

CCHW's research showed that Ethylene and Benzene were chemical precursors in the manufacture of polystyrene, so with this kind of report it was possible to identify styrofoam food packaging as a product related to the manufacturing process so that large amounts of hazardous waste were generated in the manufacturing process of this type of material.

Benzene is a known human carcinogen; it has been linked to leukemia. The Federal Government has done several studies, and a variety of literature has identified it as such. It is what you might say common knowledge within the United States public policy process that benzene has these properties and these health consequences, when people are exposed to it. Benzene is also a disposal problem and must be treated as a hazardous waste.

There have been studies of the implications for working conditions inn the production of polystyrene. During the 1980s, the executive branch of the Federal Government cut funding to the regulatory agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, particularly in the area of inspection. It became more difficult for the inspectors to cover the number of facilities they needed to cover. There are several studies that have documented this. There are some studies that have documented this pattern in Great Britain.

On July 5, 1990, the Arco polystyrene plant in Texas provided an example of volatility in the production process for polystyrene. It blew up, and 17 employees were killed in that accident. Then the government found that there were no violations -- the corporation agreed to pay a penalty, but denied any guilt related to problems associated with their safety procedures and so forth. The members of the families of the workers testified that the workers at the plant "Lived with the fear of losing their jobs if they refused to work" under unsafe conditions. It is also noted that the explosion created a shortage of foam in the marketplace because it was such a large manufacturing facility.

To create a foam package, it is necessary to blow gas into the foam, into the polystyrene itself, so that it will become lighter and will have certain properties that are desirable in the foam food package itself. To be specific, early in the campaign in 1987 the Vermonters Organized for Clean Up targeted McDonald's use of foam based in part on the fact that the foam food package blowing agent, CFC, or chloro-fluorocarbon, caused damage to the ozone layer. On August 1 of that year the Vermonters Organized for Clean Up acted and picketed restaurants in Vermont. Five days later, in concert with several manufacturers, McDonald's announced that they were going to no longer use or they were instructing their suppliers to no longer use CFC agents in the manufacture of their foam food packages.

Linguistic Detoxification: HCFCs & CFCs are the same!

In 1978, a ban enacted by the United States Congress prohibited the use of chloro-fluorocarbons as propellants in consumer products in aerosol sprays. On August 5, 1987, McDonald's announced, "We required our suppliers to switch to a non-CFC blowing agent." At the time of this pronouncement, the manufacturers and McDonald's mentioned the substitution of a blowing agent gas, which they said was not a CFC.

The chemical in question is HCFC-22. Before January 27, 1988 the chemical HCFC-22 was officially known as CFC-22. It was part of the CFC family. In a letter dated January 27, 1988 from the EPA office on air and radiation stated: "Somewhere along the way, some group hit on a nifty solution. They simply changed the name of one CFC. Instead of continuing to call it CFC-22, as they had for half a century, they renamed it 'HCFC-22'. Voila! They had their cake and ate it too."

"In a letter dated January 27, 1988 and addressed to the plastic-foam industry's Washington based trade group, the EPA Office of Air and Radiation sought to 'clarify' the move to CFC-22: 'Chemicals such as HCFC-22 contain hydrogen . . . Thus HCFC-22 is not technically a CFC.'" So before that is it correct to say that the EPA had considered that HCFC or CFC-22, as it was and became HCFC-22, had been restricted or banned under the previous legislation.

The packaging, the plastic packaging trade groups were looking for a means to substitute alternate blowing agents for CFCs, because it was becoming increasingly apparent by actions like the group, Vermonters Organized for Clean Up, and the growing literature circulated regarding the coming campaign, that it was necessary to recognize or in some way shift attention away from the blowing agent CFC-22 because of its presumed qualities, in that it damaged the ozone layer. It is a piece of "linguistic detoxification." This substance, known as one thing for 50 years, now became another thing, when it was suitable for the industry.

There was a substance called CFC-22 that was the same as HCFC-22s. "Consumption of HCFC 22 increased at an average of 4 per cent a year even before it was utilized as a substitute for - 11" - that is presumably the CFC level - "or CFC-12 because of its hydrogen atom. It is not regulated by the EPA or listed in the Montreal Protocol roster of chemicals to be controlled. Consequently, as rate of use is bound to accelerate and with it the total amount of ozone that 22 destroys.

That effect is not disputed. 'CFC-22 and HCFC-22 are the same chemical and that chemical is capable of destroying ozone in the stratosphere' says Michael Oppenheimer, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund. Even the leading manufacturer Dupont agrees, says spokesperson Kathy Forte, '22 HCFC and 22 CFC are the same'. The term 'HCFC' was not used publicly until Jan. 5 1988, she says, and the name change was required to 'avoid confusion' because of CFC-22's hydrogen atom."

Environmental Defense Fund sells out McToxics Campaign

The statement of the McDonald's representative is dated in August 1987 and the Environmental Defense Fund, along with other organizations, environmental organizations, Natural Resources Defense Council and a couple of other organizations, joined in a press conference with the manufacturers and the trade group, the plastic packaging trade groups, to announce this new change, this shift to an alternative blowing agent.

Then, we criticized the Environmental Defense Fund for joining with the food packaging industry on the CFC issue, because we recognized -- we did not know at the time that HCFC-22 was the same thing as CFC-22, but what we did know is that the blowing agents still caused harm to the environment. It was acknowledged to be less harmful to the environment than the other types of CFC, but that the alternatives were not acceptable. The real issue was the use of the foam package itself and not the blowing agent in particular. That was just one component of the product.

We were critical of the Environmental Defense Fund for engaging in this activity. After that, we contacted them following the publication of the Washington Post article and asked them to explain what they had been engaging in, and they responded. Those organizations wrote us letters and responded. They described their ideas engaging in this press conference to announce the phasing out of CFCs.

A document signed by several environmental organizations, concerning a Washington Post article of December 1989, reads as follows: "Moore is right" - Curtis Moore being the author of the Washington Post article - "Moore is right to be incensed by McDonald's 'CFC-free' claim in its placemat advertising, but he is wrong in implying that environmentalists have sanctioned that claim. In our negotiations with the food packagers, we specifically rejected any description of HCFC-22 as 'not a CFC', precisely because it would mislead people."

He then says "it is still an ozone depleter and thus only an interim solution," which is what McDonald's have said so far. In that process of environmental groups sanctioning in some way that change, they specified that industrialists, according to Mr. Doniger, that HCFC-22 should not be described as "Not a CFC" precisely because it would mislead people.

Save the Ozone Layer: Create Smog?

McDonald's also used pentane as a blowing agent in the United States. The issue with pentane is associated with its hazards in the manufacturing process. Many foam package producers would have difficulty switching to the use of pentane because of considerable up front cost associated with the electric fireproofing or explosion proofing, their electrical circuitry, to avoid problems associated with the flammability of pentane. It is also noted in other documents that pentane is extremely difficult to contain in the manufacturing process, and that is why it is necessary to explosion proof electrical circuitry. This substance poses workplace hazards in its usage and, in addition, these substances, when they escape from the manufacturing process, contribute to ground level ozone problems. Those are issues we raised in 1987. At the time McDonald's said they would no longer use the CFC blowing agents in their foam food packaging.

In 1987, we were saying McDonald's should stop using foam food packaging because substituting blowing agents was not going to solve environmental problems associated with the food package, but was going to transfer the problems to other levels of the stratosphere. Pentane, at a low level, as a gas at the lower levels of the atmosphere, is a hydrocarbon that would contribute to smog. It is identified as a greenhouse gas as a hydrocarbon.

"As much as 50 to 60 per cent of polystyrene food containers are, in fact, foamed with hydrocarbons, processors say; and many of McDonald's food-packaging suppliers, including Mobil, the largest, use hydrocarbons." Quote from a processor: "'A substantial portion of McDonald's containers have been made with isopentane. That is why we are confident there will be no problem in phasing out CFC-12'." The next paragraph in the middle of it, the statement, the article continues: "Chief among the cost." Conversion to hydrocarbons, however, carries with it costs that even the largest processor might find formidable. Chief among these is the expense of outfitting a plant to safeguard against the materials' flammability and to contain their vaporous emissions. Processors who convert will need to 'explosion proof' electrical connections on their machinery, make special provisions for storage of the chemical, and increase the number of fire safety devices in their plants, users and suppliers of the chemicals say. "

It goes on: "Because hydrocarbon emissions are linked with low level atmospheric pollution, processors must also have recovery systems in place to vent fumes from the air. Hydrocarbon emissions are also subject to the EPA's clean air standards, thus adding a regulatory dimension to the chemical's use . . . In some parts of the US (notably southern California) there is concern that hydrocarbons could be restricted if EPA prescribed clean air goals for an area are not met." Clean air goals have been coming into effect in various parts of the United States requiring that these municipal areas come into compliance with clean air standards and because of their smog problems they are not in compliance. These blowing agents, pentane blowing agents, can cause smog.

A change of direction to pentane would have involved a great outlay of capital cost to their suppliers.

Junk Culture

The polystyrene foam food package was only of use to the customer for a very brief time. From the time that the person purchases the food to the time the person disposes of the package; that process could take anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. For McDonald's, it is likely to have been a very short time. It was a wasteful product. It was a wasteful package material. It was nothing particular. It was not a particularly useful package, except it was a vehicle for McDonald's to put its name on its product. In as far as they relied upon the package to use as an advertising device on television, they were, it was a series of advertisements that ran in the United States that referred to the package under the guise of the "keeping the hot side hot and the cold side cold," and subsequently using the package for the brief period that the customer would contact it. It was more of an advertising or promotional tool than anything else.

Styrene from Polystyrene gets into the Food

There is a document related to the migration of various types of materials from plastic packages into food contained by these packages. The author was specifically interested in those studies that focused on styrene migration. These issues, I suppose, go to -- at least in the second paragraph -- are related more generally to storage as opposed to migration. The last sentence in the second paragraph says: "One of the only problems with storing large quantities of polystyrene in a closed building is emissions from residuals of styrene monomer". He refers to item 10 in the reference list; item being Polystyrene Safety Data Sheet, Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety.

On page 4 under the heading: "What about Migration of Monomer into Food Products"? By monomer, Mr. Baggett is referring to the styrene monomer that is the precursor to polystyrene, in which he states: "Migration of monomers" -- this is the second paragraph -- "into food and cosmetics came to a head in the late 1960's and early 1970's with the discovery that vinyl chloride monomer is a carcinogen. It continued in the 1970's with the suspicion that acrylonitrile used in beverage containers was a carcinogen, which resulted in a 1975 ruling restricting use of these monomers. The earliest work on styrene migration I found was done in 1972. Therefore the topic is not new. A preliminary search of the literature suggests that the topic of migration of styrene monomer was addressed in a 1976 symposium on health hazards in the plastics industry. In the last couple of years since the results of the adipose tissue survey were released to the public there has been renewed interest in monomer migration. There have been six world symposiums on the topic. The latest was held in 1990 in London, England. Over the years it appears that physical chemists have shown considerable interest in migration".

Next paragraph: "In packaged foods with the addition of heat (such as microwave temperatures) vitamin A will decompose and produce m-xylene, toluene, and 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene. Toluene will aggressively dissolve polystyrene and render polystyrene as an unsuitable package for containing or microwaving products that contain vitamin A."

You can taste styrene in a food container, in the food product contained in a styrofoam food container; this has been acknowledged by the plastics packaging, by at least one plastics packaging trade group.

Several studies have shown that styrene does migrate from polystyrene foam cups into food and drink: K. Figge, "Migration of Additives from Plastic Films into Edible Oils and Fat Stimulants; "Total Migration From Plastic Yoghurt Pots" which is a Spanish document; Joseph Miltz, "Migration of Low Molecular Weight Species from Packaging Materials: Theoretical and Practical Considerations"; "Migration of Packaging Components to Food: Regulatory Considerations".

The Polystyrene Packaging Council is a trade organization composed of manufacturers of plastic foam food packaging. Presumably it would not be in their interests to identify problems with packaging unless it was a well known established scientific fact. They do not normally campaign telling people what the problems are with polystyrene packaging. A trade organization seeks to promote the interests of its members, here foam food packagers; the issue raised in earlier testimony and within the campaign that we were engaged in was that foam food packaging is better than alternatives because foam food packaging does not contain large quantities of various disease factors as compared to reusable food vessels washed in a dishwasher.

The issue raised here or addressed here is whether there is an additional possibility -- that is the food packaging trade group is acknowledging the possibility that these components migrate into or can migrate into the food products contained within the polystyrene food package.

There is a pamphlet is headed Polystyrene Food Service Packaging: A Health Profile. It reads as follows: "The more important question is how much styrene migrates into food. Polystyrene packaging is designed to reduce the migration of styrene into food, which can impart an off taste at very low concentrations. Independent studies have shown that residual styrene concentrations in polystyrene of 500 parts PPM (parts per million) produce migration levels of styrene into food in the five to 50 parts per billion range."

Next paragraph: "The issue is addressed as to whether or not there are any adverse health effects", and here the representatives or the material distributed by the polystyrene packaging council makes statements claiming that "scientific research does not support the notion that styrene migration into food products is of any concern".

A document entitled "The Broad Scan Analysis: Human Adipose Tissue Survey" was done by the Environmental Protection Agency, a statutory federal body.

It says: "Several compounds, including styrene the xylene isomers,1,4-dichlorobenzene and ethylphenol were detected in all composite samples. Styrene is observed 100 per cent at the time in these fact tissue samples. For the 46 samples, which are 46 people, 100 per cent of them had styrene residues in tissue. Statisticians will say that the number 30 is a number that is adequate for a sample size in order to establish some degree of confidence that your results are not just a random occurrence. Here we have a 100 per cent record in any case.

The question arises from this type of research, that if there is this kind of contamination in human fat tissue in the United States might it be caused by or associated with in any way the use of styrofoam or polystyrene foam food packages? So the second question is, is there any evidence to suggest that foam food packaging leeches any substances into food and in particular if it is capable of leeching the chemical styrene. There are a number of general concerns regarding the contamination of human fat tissue with toxic chemicals. They are a matter of a great deal of scientific debate. You could find experts to argue basically whatever position you wanted.

The first issue is that there is residue in polystyrene food packaging that has been acknowledged by the packaging council to be as a contaminant in the polystyrene food package. The second issue is that it can move from the package into the food.

In the second paragraph, Mr. Baggett identifies research in the literature regarding the ways in which, he identifies a Scandinavian study that he says examines the movement of styrene in the body, and they use what he says is aradio-labeled styrene; he further notes that it is not simply a matter of the styrene itself, but the metabolites of styrene, and here I quote: "The metabolites". "The metabolites of styrene are mandelic acid, a known mutagen and styrene-7, 8-oxide, a known carcinogen."

T Workplace: Styrene," Center for chemical hazard assessment Syracuse Research Corporation, Syracuse, New York. 41:, 1985. It reads, "Styrene, a widespread mutagen: Conclusions from the result of testing. That is in the environmental mutagens and carcinogens 1982." So the point there is that the Polystyrene Packaging Council in acknowledging the migration of food, migration of styrene from the package into the food contained, dismisses the health concerns by reference to certain studies, and Mr. Baggett raises certain issues with reference to other studies.

The major concerns involve the health implications, as well as other implications in terms of waste, production of polystyrene foam at the time in the campaign for the elimination of polystyrene foam by McDonald's. We raised the issue in our news journal.

We examined the waste disposal issue in order to learn to what degree McDonald's packaging contributed to solid waste problems. And we observed various materials, various items, in the literature that we researched that would help us to identify that, what that volume was.

We derived a calculation of about 1.3 billion cubic feet of styrofoam, polystyrene foam, food packaging, and that is really the central aspect of the volume issue, that it was a needless package in that, as far as we could tell, this was the amount of waste associated with it by this source, McDonald's.

There are a number of ways to calculate the total volume. We made our calculations based on the article in Modern Plastics magazine that referred to McDonald's use of 70 million pounds of the product in their manufacturing -- in the manufacturing.

The 1.3 billion cubic feet is a calculation of what the volume would be once it has been molded into the packaging itself.

Polystyrene foam does not biodegrade at all.

The lightness of a polystyrene foam packaging makes it likely to end up as litter by virtue of the fact it is easy for the wind to pick it up and move it. We did review material from organizations that were engaged in cleaning up litter on beach fronts, and those organizations observed that foam, was one of the largest single constituents and that McDonald's foam packages were identifiable in the material that they picked up off beaches. There is no specific characterization of the amount of this material that ends up as litter, but it is clear that it is an issue.

McDonald's never addressed directly the litter issue. In a general sense, there are organizations that are set up such as organizations like Keep America Beautiful which focus on the litter issue exclusively and, have argued for education of people so that they do not throw things in the street.

The way that issue is framed, the responsibility is upon the consumer and is not placed any further up the stream of the product life-span. In general, we can characterize the way McDonald's used foam in its restaurants as part of a means to externalize some of its costs, costs associated with reusables or costs associated with disposal of materials that were heavier. It basically became someone else's problem once it left the store.

In general, recycling is a preferable means of dealing with otherwise what would be a waste product, but in a more general sense there are actually three Rís. There is reduction or reduce, then there is reuse and then there is recycle; recycling being the last option of preference. So that with regard to the styrene, the polystyrene foam issue, the matter, the issues we were raising were associated with the use of a product that had problems across the span of its life cycle, and that the solution was not going to be effective if what McDonald's proposed to do was simply recycle the foam packaging product; that recycling was not the solution to the issues that we were raising.

In 1989 members of the organization met with Shelby Yastrow at which point he announced that that would be McDonald's choice, and that they would adopt a recycling program for the styrofoam. The meeting was discussed with Mr. Yastrow, what McDonald's options were, what they were going to do and whether or not they would be willing to meet with a number of community based organizations and their leaders to discuss the foam issue within the context of those people's communities, and that Mr. Yastrow's response was to offer what came to be called the McRecycling program. At that time McDonald's was offering that as the way of dealing with the disposal problem, or certainly a major way of dealing with the disposal problem.

In areas where McDonald's was subjected to municipal bans and certain types of issues were being raised, they would adopt the recycling program which, essentially, meant setting up a bin for their customers to separate and place the foam in those receptacles. There was a great deal of promotional advantage that McDonald's was seeking to gain through this recycling program, and it also appeared that the recycling program was exhibiting a great many problems, notwithstanding the fact that the foam was contaminated with materials from the food that had been inside the package before it was discarded in the recycling bin, but then further down the line with regard to the reprocessing of the plastics in a recycling plant and then even further down the line with regard to the ability to market a commodity of made of recycled styrofoam plastic.

Whilst there was a considerable degree of information being generated by both McDonald's and foam packaging organisations, it remained very unclear what was actually being produced at the end of the recycling process and, generally speaking, if you were to attend a trade show at this time -- this is in the period of 1989, in early 1990 -- then there would be organizations promoting the styrofoam and its recyclability. They would demonstrate its recyclability with materials made out of plastics which were generally composed of other types of plastic, polymers, rather than polystyrene foam. There was a tendency of McDonald's to use this program as a public relations exercise.

The point is that whether or not this was merely a public relations exercise, if McDonald's foam recycling program was going to be effective, then they would need the material to begin with and that they would need to be able to impact on the manufacturing/remanufacturing process in some fashion, and what we found was that there were some problems with the relationship that McDonald's was having with some of its downstream marketers, the reprocessing operations.

There was an incident in which one of these reprocessors was forced to reship back a load of foam because McDonald's had not paid a bill; and associated with the shipment of this foam back to McDonald's was also a bill from the reprocessor to pay for problems associated with exterminating vermin that were accumulating around this catch of foam.

A further issue is incineration of waste specifically regarding polystyrene foam. There is a list of chemicals that have been detected in scientific experiments involving the burning or, if you will, baking of polystyrene foam. The reference is a list of a total of 69 articles dealing with the subject that they have identified in their literature research. The conclusion of this report, simply stated, identifies a number of products that are related to the decomposition through fire or heat of polystyrene". It makes several statements about the material. It also makes note that there are certain effects related to the burning of polystyrene in the presence of test animals. It states that the burning of polystyrene in comparison to other materials appears to be -- is among the least toxic. It, nonetheless, makes note of and the table 1 list of chemicals that are produced.

This research was undertaken because during the period of the campaign, McDonald's began suggesting that they would like to, or that they were pursuing the option of developing incinerators at their restaurants, and that this would be an acceptable way to deal with the polystyrene issue.

There are seven conclusions to this report. Amongst them, they note that there are toxic effects associated with the burning of polystyrene in laboratory experiments with animals; that there are considerable degrees of variation in the ways in which these composition products occur, but that in the specific sense McDonald's claims that when styrofoam is burnt properly, it reduces to nothing but water and carbon, carbon dioxide, if I recall correctly, their claims. They, essentially, were not in keeping with the findings of this study.

The following comments are from a document by Dr. Paul Connett, a chemist at St. Lawrence University. "I find it difficult to believe that any credible expert would maintain that a controlled burn could be maintained in a trash incinerator akin to the 'controlled' burn possible in a laboratory experiment. There are many variables with a typical municipal waste stream entering an incinerator which would defy the total control over the burning process".

This letter goes on to refer to a number of studies that have looked at the variables that need to be considered. I just skip to the conclusion, the final paragraph on the second page: "In my view, the only chance one would have of getting a controlled combustion with the burning of polystyrene packaging in a commercial incinerator would be if the incinerator was designed and built only to burn polystyrene packaging and all other trash was handled elsewhere. The moment other materials are introduced, even paper, the chances of maintaining a controlled burn to laboratory standards are highly unlikely."

This is a letter from Consumat Systems to McDonald's Corporation dated December 8th 1987. It refers to a Consumat model C75-P incinerator and the State of Illinois operating permit issued for the operator of this incinerator, and test reports associated with the operation of the incinerator; and that material, I believe, is also in the collection and it describes McDonald's Woodbridge incinerator, C75-P incinerator model in Woodbridge, the village of Woodbridge. McDonald's was involved in seeking incineration permits in the State of Illinois. McDonald's is engaging, at this point, engaging in incineration as a solution to the waste issue and that, in fact, it was part of their response, initial response, to the McToxics campaign; but that they subsequently, as far as I have been able to tell, they subsequently abandoned this project, although I would note that Shelby Yastrow was quoted in newspaper accounts as claiming that he would like to put an incinerator behind every restaurant in the United States. The program was abandoned because of public controversy.

On to landfills: It has been stated that is presently the main disposal option for McDonald's polystyrene foam. Aside from the lack of degradeability or biodegradeability with regard to styrofoam or foam food packaging, the related issues have to do with the possibility that a package itself can in contact with certain types of chemicals, substances that are in a landfill, for example, toluene will dissolve the foam and the foam can move into what is called leeching or into the ground water through the leaking of this material out of the landfill. Research has shown that it is possible that it may become part of some kind of chemical soup that leaks out of the landfill. It is reasonable to assume that it can happen. It is noted that it does turn up in hazardous waste dumps as a product.

So either it does not biodegrade, it stays there forever or, if it does, it is because it interacts with other chemicals and then could leech out into the water table. There are studies which indicate that it is present in hazardous waste site disposal facilities that are or were at one time solid waste landfills. Now, solid waste landfills are required to be monitored. Monitoring wells are required to be installed. This monitoring that is done now is a relatively recent phenomenon. Monitoring wells are only located in specific locations around the landfill, and once there is something detected in a particular well, it is somewhat difficult to pin-point where that material came from, where leak in the landfill actually is, and that the only reason that that well has picked up that particular contamination in its casing is due to the fact that it happens to be in the direction the ground water is flowing from the point of where this material is leaking into the ground water.

The effectiveness of the monitoring done by federal authorities is a matter of dispute. It is not a particularly effective approach to wait until the contaminant has reached the ground water and then act on the contamination once it has reached the ground water. It should be stopped at source really rather than at that stage.

The viewpoint has been expressed that polystyrene foam packaging in landfills helps to aerate the landfill and help with the degradability. Styrofoam or foam is used in potting plants in the soil. I do not think that in a landfill it is particularly relevant that McDonald's foam is going to contribute to beneficial effects on the landfill. Basically, it is not an answer. They were really clutching at straws to justify using landfills.

In 1989-90, the McToxics campaign was having a very broad effect on the industry. This is an internal memorandum that was leaked which, whilst it does not refer specifically to the foam, the McToxics campaign, it does state in general in the first paragraph: "The image of plastics among consumers is deteriorating at an alarmingly fast pace. Opinion research experts tell us that it has plummeted so far and so fast, in fact, that we are approaching a 'point of no return'."

Then it goes on to say: "We have an opportunity to correct this situation". He calls for a meeting on January 15th 1990 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington D.C. for members of The Society of the Plastics Industry. It is the highest level meeting for that industry. The meeting is to be hosted by SPI, that is The Society of the Plastics Industry, Polymeric Materials Producers Division".

The document also says that: "49 of 50 States have, or are considering, laws or regulations that ban, limit or restrict plastics and/or products made from plastics. . . There is a growing consensus among plastics executives that we must immediately undertake a major program of unprecedented proportions to reverse this fast-moving tidal wave of growing negative public perception."

In the next paragraph in the center it states: "It is estimated that this effort will cost upwards of $50 million a year for the next three years". This is a public relations effort.

The point, simply put, is that the campaign was having a broad impact beyond just McDonald's itself, and that the response, in a general sense, appears to have been largely related to imagery and public relations. The central issues we were raising were not issues that these executives were necessarily willing to address except as public relations matters.

The Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste and the campaign in general, McToxics, sought a meeting with McDonald's over these issues. The campaign began in October 1987, and at that time we had written letters asking McDonald's to meet to discuss the foam issue, and to meet in specifically with local community groups that were living near disposal facilities, landfills and so forth, to address the issues that were concerning these people, and McDonald's did not agree to a meeting until 1989 -- on the eve of their launching the McRecycle program.

When McDonald's finally withdrew their polystyrene foam food packaging, we recognized it as a victory, but we also acknowledged that McDonald's would not address or accept the possibility that they had been in any way influenced by the pressure that had been brought to bear across the nation by local communities groups; that they instead chose to attribute the decision to a series of meetings that began with EDF in, I believe, 1990.

We anticipated that we would need to pay attention to McDonald's implementation of their withdrawal of foam food packaging; that, in fact, it might take more time and they might decide not to -- they might go back on what they said. In so far as what they were going to in other countries at the time, we did not expect that it would affect other countries except in so far as McDonald's was willing to extend those policies to other branches around the globe.

McDonald's ought to live by the same standards they live by in their home country, to the extent they wish to be perceived as a model corporate citizen around the world, that they ought to at the very least live up to what standards they set for themselves in the United States. They have not withdrawn polystyrene foam yet in other countries because of the fact that they have not been subjected to the kind of Grassroots community pressure that was brought to bear on them in the United States.

As an alternative packaging system for McDonald's, we recommended that they consider alternatives such as packaging that was made from recycled =00=00=00=00=00=00=05=BFr that they consider maximizing their use of= reusable materials in their restaurants. At various stages McDonald's did respond to those issues, although not necessarily directly to us, to the organization.

McDonald's has put forward the argument that reusable packaging would be more damaging to the environment than polystyrene foam packaging, saying that, for example, if they had to use dishwashers, it would be a large energy use. The truth is, the idea that a disposable package is less wasteful in terms of energy consumption is rather questionable, it seems to defy common sense. It also defies the laws of physics. These arguments do not fully account for the energy consumption that is required from the beginning of the extraction process to the end of the disposal process, and even necessarily beyond the clean-up process associated with toxic disposal.

If you are going to claim that the energy consumption that begins somewhere in the life cycle of a product and ends when it is disposed of, shows it is more beneficial to extract resources continually, pass them through people's hands and have them wind up in a landfill, that this is somehow less exhaustive of energy resources than reusing items in the middle of the product's life cycle. It would be necessary to fully account for all of these points in the process of the life cycle of the product or the food packaging or the vessel for food. It seems to defy the laws of physics.