Portland, Maine School District Bans Styrofoam Trays

By Mat McDermott

Three loud cheers for the Portland, Maine school district. Hip, hip…

After saving $50,000 by reducing waste through recycling programs, Portland schools superintendent James Morse has announced that area schools will no longer be using single use styrofoam trays in district cafeterias, and will be transitioning to reusable trays instead. (More at Bangor Daily News.)

Currently Portland schools use 450,000 styrofoam trays each year, all of which are simply trashed.

I hope I need not have to remind regular TreeHugger readers that styrofoam is forever, essentially. It doesn’t biodegrade, only breaks down into smaller and smaller bits. It’s a vile substance that frankly has no place anywhere that calls itself civilized, even partly aware of the impact of that place’s effect on polluting the environment and sustainable use of resources.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, if one of the layers of hell is reserved for the person who invented aluminum siding, then the inventor of styrofoam must occupy several layers of hell all by himself.

Starting in September 2012, the styrofoam trays are out, replaced by paperboard trays (made in Maine), to be then replaced by reusable trays at an unspecified future date.

The move paves the way for a city-wide ban on styrofoam, something which the school district’s continued use of the disposable foam trays was holding up.

Again, three cheers for Portland. May every other city in the country, every locale on this planet ban styrofoam. May its use and manufacture be as repugnant to people as… well, the single most repugnant thing you personally can think of.

This post originally appeared on Treehugger.

Related Stories:

San Francisco on Track to Become a Zero Waste City

Starbucks: The War Over the Paper Cup

Recycling – How Does It Work?

Photo credit: bookgrl via flickr


Fred Hoekstra
Fred H5 years ago

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

federico bortoletto
federico b5 years ago

Molto bene!!

federico bortoletto
federico b5 years ago

Molto bene!!

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago

Hope this becomes the norm for ALL schools, etc.

Carole R.
Carole R5 years ago

Good .... one small step.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago


Amber Beasley
Amber B5 years ago


Christine Stewart
Christine S5 years ago

I don't know why they didn't use reuseable plastic trays in the first place- maybe they didn't have a proper dishwasher??

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

All schools should do this.

Prentise W.
pre,tpse w5 years ago

Now, if they will just stop feeding poor quality, tasteless food to the children, and then throwing away and not even recycling to animals or gardens the tons of food that they don't eat (I say tons, because it is happening all over the country, as far as I know).