Photo: GregPC via Flickr
Are you thinking of taking your family rafting near the Ozarks this Labor Day? Well, you’d better leave your Tupperware at home. A poorly written Missouri law has mistakenly banned polypropylene from most of the state’s waterways. Lawmakers in the Show-Me-State meant to outlaw the polystyrene containers that have been polluting their rivers but wound up banning dishwasher-safe plastic instead. A Stiff Penalty for Keeping Your Sandwich Fresh
The mix-up occurred when lawmakers attempted to translate the common-usage name/brand-name Styrofoam into its proper, brandless name, polystyrene. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a chemist (or an internet connection) in the statehouse that day, and the politicians ended up banning polypropylene instead. Now, anyone caught bringing Muddie Buddies or Rice Krispie Squares in a Tupperware dish riverside can spend up to a year in jail. But they probably won’t.
Missouri Water Patrol Spokesman Sgt. Jerry Callahan:
Our officers will be taking no enforcement on that.
The main proponent of the bill, Senator Delbert Scott, blamed the screw up on the wording of the federal rule that bans polystyrene:
When you depend on the federal government to write the stuff, that's what happens. It gets screwed up.
Scott claims that Styrofoam was in the original draft of the bill. They cut the word because it is a trademark and accidentally edited too much out.
(Both quotes are from the Associated Press)
Polystyrene is No Laughing Matter
The lawmakers goofed and we’ve all had a good laugh, but for the most part, their intentions were pragmatic. Streams and lakes have long been cluttered by discarded polystyrene coolers. Prohibiting these coolers may reduce the amount of garbage that pollutes the waterways, making ecosystems healthier, animals healthier, cuter/more playful.
The rest of the bill is aimed at riverside revelers. The measure forbids beer bongs/funnels and containers of liquor that hold more than 4 gallons from most watercourses. There have been problems with lewdness and rowdiness at many of the popular Ozark rafting spots.
Polystyrene is Still Legal
Until the error is corrected, polystyrene containers will still be legal around Missouri waterways. Scott plans to introduce a consent bill to rectify the error the next time the senate is in session.
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