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Make friends with foam

by: David Paul Morris, Paper cups’ lack of insulation can lead to double-cupping and cardboard “java jackets.” One reader counts this extra paper waste as one of the flaws with Portland’s ban on polystyrene foam.

Kate Gawf's fawning profile of the Portland ban on polystyrene foam overlooked a number of flaws with the policy (18 years later; banned polymer lingers, Sustainable Life, March 11).

The most obvious is that since paper products have such poor insulation qualities, retailers routinely double-cup hot products and/or provide cardboard 'java jackets.'

This doubles the amount of solid waste to be disposed of, increases the likelihood of litter, and drives up the cost of the finished product.

Moreover, even on a single cup-for-cup basis, foam products are environmentally superior to paper if one examines the entire manufacturing and shipping process.

The most comprehensive life-cycle analysis of these products, done by Franklin Associates in 2006, showed that by virtually any measure - air pollution, net energy consumption, solid waste or greenhouse gas emissions - foam products are more environmentally benign than paper products.

Foam products also can be recycled, while comparable paper products cannot. There are several local companies that are actively processing recycled foam into new products, including Plas2Fuel Corp in Kelso, Wash., Apex Construction Systems of Tigard, and the Recycling Professionals in Portland.

Dozens of large, institutional purchasers of foam products take advantage of these recycling services, including Tektronix, Xerox and more than 70 public school cafeterias.

These and other issues are discussed at greater length in a study we released in November titled 'Sustainable Failure: Why Portland's Polystyrene Foam Ban Should Be Repealed,' available at www.cascadepolicy.org.

John A. Charles Jr.

President, Cascade Policy Institute

Southwest Portland

Mediator program offers many benefits

With regard to your article 'Program gets neighbors to talk it out' (March 28), I was a neighborhood mediator for several years before Resolution Northwest took over the program from the city.

I am glad to see that they have continued to do marvelous work in the community.

This is an incredibly valuable resource which I wish would get the funding and attention it deserves. It keeps cases out of court and brings about neighbor-to-neighbor connections.

Yehudah Winter

Northeast Portland

Automatic cameras carry risk of abuse

In regard to the automatic red-light cameras that are being set up in Portland, my concerns surrounding this issue relate to the potential for tampering and the lack of protection for motorists' rights.

I have been subjected to electronic harassment and have had my computer hacked into on more than one occasion. I have experienced firsthand how technologies can be used to sabotage one's existence.

Based on this fact, my concerns are as follows:

• Where are our guarantees that tampering has not occurred with the lights and/or the timers on the lights? Anyone, at any time, could be targeted.

• Although there is a camera directed at the motorist, there is no camera filming the stoplight as a safeguard to guarantee that enough time was allowed for the motorist to safely pass through on a yellow light.

• A camera set at an angle could simultaneously record the motorist and the light, guaranteeing the accuracy of the time and date the ticket was issued.

• In the past, a law enforcement officer was present to ensure that the motorist did indeed deserve a ticket and that the light was functioning accurately. With the automatic cameras, the human element is lost and the margin of error is greatly increased.

As someone who has been a victim of electronic harassment, I feel these automatic red-light cameras bring into play more dangers to a motorist's rights than benefits. I implore the city to have no more lights be placed until all these safeguards can be addressed.

Andrea Paulson

West Linn