NY’s Styrofoam Ban Will Remove Nearly 30,000 Tons of Trash

New York city is scheduled to ban food establishments from using plastic foam containers starting this summer. The country’s largest city follows San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon in prohibiting the use of foam containers, which environmental groups have vilified as choking up landfills.

Reducing Environmental Harm

“These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City,” said New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio in a public news announcement. “We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less.”

Removing 30,000 Tons from Streets, Waterways and Landfills

As reported by NBC New York, NY administration officials believe the Styrofoam ban will remove about 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene from the city’s streets, waterways and landfills. Starting July 1st, food establishments will be prohibited from using plastic foam cups, containers and packing “peanuts.” The only exception is that peanuts will still be allowed in packages shipped to New York from outside the city. The Styrofoam ban will have a fine-free grace period until January 2016. Nonprofits and businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue may be exempt provided they can show the ban would lead to financial hardship.

Carcinogenic Waste

Styrofoam is made of polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic. The Earth Resource Foundation notes that the styrene used in this plastic has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Making polystyrene pollutes the air and creates excessive liquid and solid waste. A 1986 EPA report on solid waste noted that the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste is polystyrene manufacturing. The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research identified 57 chemical byproducts released during the combustion of polystyrene foam. Toxic chemicals leach out of these plastics and into the food they contain (especially when the are subjected to heat in a microwave oven).

Bloating Landfills, Harming Wildlife

According to GreenHome.com, polystyrene “eats up” as much as 30% of landfill space. These foam containers are non-biodegradable, remaining in overcrowded landfills indefinitely. As of 2006, the U.S. was discarding over 14 million tons of polystyrene products every year. The polystyrene that eventually makes its way into our rivers and oceans easily breaks into smaller pieces that choke fish and interfere with their digestive systems.

Reducing Your Use of Polystyrene

If you want to reduce your use of polystyrene, become less dependent on disposable cups, coolers and lunch trays. Opt instead for reusable items. If you must use disposable products, consider paper or corn- and sugar-based alternatives that can be recyclable and are readily biodegradable.

 

 

163 comments

Lyn V.
Lyn V2 years ago

Thanks, interesting reading.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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MJ J.
Past Member 2 years ago

ty

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Kelly M.
Kelly R2 years ago

Not sure why this is now in the "Pets" area, but it would be great, I signed the petition already. In Nova Scotia they are now recycling stryofoam, and many restaurants have compostable takeaway containers.

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Julianna D.
Juliana D2 years ago

Thanks for the good news!

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Val D.
Val D2 years ago

I wish styrofoam was banned everywhere (or used only for very special purposes). And what's up with those peanut things? Oy!

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cynthia B.
cynthia l2 years ago

Right On thank you

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Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago

A good start. Now other cities and states have to follow this example.

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Warren Webber
Warren Webber2 years ago

Live long and prosper!

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Caroline A.
Caroline Asgard2 years ago

That's great!

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