Styrofoam is used for food packaging containers, beverage cups, and packaging peanut. The applications don’t end there as it is used for building materials, electrical appliances, and other household items. With a material that is used for many purposes the hope would be that there is an aspect of sustainability that can be attributed to this product. Unfortunately Styrofoam is rarely recycled in fact it cannot be entirely recycled at all which keeps the product building up in landfills, city streets, streams, and enviably the oceans.
According to the Department of Transportation Styrofoam accounts for 15% of storm drains and contributes to 25% of all was in landfills. When it is thrown away it eventually breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, but instead of becoming organic material its lightweight chemical build up makes it prefect as an air toxin that causes damages to the lungs of animals and humans.
The EPA identified the Styrofoam manufacturing process as one of the 5th largest creators of hazardous waste as 57 dangerous chemical byproducts are released in the creation of combustion and creation of polystyrene, the main component of Styrofoam.
California a leader in sustainability has already banned this lightweight environmental hazard in fifty jurisdictions from being used in take-out packaging. This past Thursday Senator Alan Lowenthal presented a bill to the California Senate to would prohibit food vendors and restaurants from dispensing prepared foods to customers in polystyrene foam beginning Jan. 1, 2014 statewide.
SB 568 was passed on a bipartisan 21-15 vote and is now heading to Assembly this month, with a floor vote by the end of August.