Why Styrofoam (Expanded Polystyrene) Should Be Banned Everywhere In The World

By Jeff Lewis

Jeff Lewis
May 6, 2019 · 45 min read

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based non-biodegradable foam, which the EPA and International Agency for Research on Cancer consider styrene a “possible human carcinogen” and “that such materials can have serious impacts upon human health, wildlife, and aquatic environment, and the economy.”

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam is sensitive to sunlight in a process called photodegradation, or “breakdown by light.” Over months, continual exposure to sunlight affects the outer layer of the plastic, discoloring it and turning it into a powdery substance. Because of this action, thin styrofoam packaging can break down in a few years. Inside a landfill and shielded from light, however, no such breakdown takes place.

It remains on this earth forever as a piece of toxic trash to humans, to wildlife and marine life, food supply, and our environment while costing taxpayers millions in clean up and mitigation costs. While EPS is technically “recyclable” there is, to date, no meaningful recycling of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam due to high food contamination rates and a very weak market to clean, handle and process the material.

I’ve analyzed and categorized the following report of the environmental impacts, public health issues, economic strains and costs from current laws (State, County, and City) pertaining to the negative effects of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam. The irrefutable evidence and research has been mounting over decades from various federal agencies, city staff reports, state staff reports, environmental clubs, and nonprofits.

Table of Contents (Issues):

A. Public Health

B. Wildlife and Marine Life Health

C. Nearly Un-Recyclable

D. Polluted Environment, Beaches, Oceans, and Waterways

E. Financial Burden on Local Government and Taxpayers

F. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam Alternatives

A. Public Health

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “Styrene is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin which potentially threatens human health.”
  • “The general public is not typically warned of any potential hazard, particularly in the immigrant and non-English-speaking community.”
  • “Due to the physical properties of polystyrene, the EPA states “that such materials can also have serious impacts on human health, wildlife, the aquatic environment and the economy.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “Evidence indicates that all blowing agents currently used or proposed in connection with the manufacture of polystyrene foam pose dangers to the environment. Beyond the generally acknowledged dangers of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to the ozone layer, which are addressed in another City of Berkeley ordinance, other blowing agents also create dangers. For example, the blowing agent pentane creates hazardous earth-level smog and has already been restricted in some regions for air quality reasons.”

Abington, Massachusetts:

  • “In a study concerning the migration of styrene in polystyrene cups to hot drinks, it was determined the concentration of styrene monomer found in the drinks was above the Environmental Protection Agency recommended levels, including the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) standard.”

Amherst, Massachusetts (Article 9):

  • “Eliminated of Expanded Polystyrene food containers is in the best interest of the health and welfare of Town inhabitants.”

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

Cambridge, Massachusetts (Ordinance 1374):

Clean Water Action California:

  • “Styrene residues are found in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue.”
  • “Styrene exposure increases the risk of leukemia and lymphoma and is a neurotoxin.”
  • “Workers in polystyrene products manufacturing are exposed to many harmful chemicals, including Styrene, Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, Methyl Chloride, and Methyl Ketone.”
  • “Occupational exposure to Styrene increases risk of lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, pancreatic cancer, urinary bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.”
  • “High rates of neurotoxicological effects have been reported in workers, including slowed reaction time, effects on balance and spatial orientation, hearing problems, concentration problems, and decreased color discrimination. Some studies also show significant decrease in sperm count and increased sperm abnormality.”

Environmental Protection Agency:

  • “Chronic exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the CNS, with symptoms such as headache, fatigue, weakness, depression, CNS dysfunction (reaction time, memory, visuomotor speed and accuracy, intellectual function), and hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy, minor effects on some kidney enzyme functions and on the blood.”
  • “Animal studies have reported effects on the CNS, liver, kidney, and eye and nasal irritation from inhalation exposure to styrene.”
  • “Liver, blood, kidney, and stomach effects have been observed in animals following chronic oral exposure.”
  • “Lung tumors have been observed in the offspring of orally exposed mice.”
  • “Animal cancer studies have produced variable results and provide limited evidence for carcinogenicity.”
  • “Styrene oxide is a reactive metabolite of styrene and shows positive carcinogenic results in oral exposure bioassays. Styrene oxide has been detected in workers exposed to styrene. IARC has classified this metabolite as a Group 2A, probable human carcinogen.”
  • “Styrofoam production as the 5th largest creator of toxic waste in the United States.”

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “Styrene is also a chemical known by the State of California to cause cancer, and is included as a listed chemical under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “The general public, especially the non-English speaking community, is not typically warned of any potential hazard from styrene.”

Seattle, Washington (Ordinance 122751):

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

Takoma Park, Maryland (Ordinance 2014–62):

The Sierra Club:

  • “Polystyrene is made from non-renewable fossil fuels (oil and natural gas). The cost of natural gas, is relatively lower cost because of hydrofracking, which causes many environmental and health problems.”

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “The amount of styrene monomer migration from polystyrene into hot drinks was dependent on the temperature and fat content of the drinks.”
  • “exposure to styrene vapor can cause irritations of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, as well as toxic effects on the liver, and can act as a depressant on the central nervous system that also causes neurological impairment.”
  • “Potential effects of styrene exposure during its production can cause eye and mucosal irritations and gastrointestinal issues. Possible effects on the central nervous system include headache, weakness, fatigue, depression, general dysfunction hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy.”
  • “Workers with high exposure to styrene showed increased cancer of the lymph hematopoietic system and possibly related mortality, as well as increased levels of DNA adducts and genetic damage to lymphocytes.”
  • “Occupational studies concerning styrene have shown risks for workers for lymph hematopoietic cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and genetic damage in the white blood cells, or lymphocytes, as well as increased risks for pancreatic and esophageal cancers.”
  • “Styrene has caused lung tumors in mice.”
  • “Benzene, a component of polystyrene is a known carcinogen and enters the body through the respiratory system and skin contact.”

B. Wildlife and Marine Life Health

Alameda, California (Ordinance 2977):

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

Brisbane, California (Ordinance 590):

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

Clean Water Action California:

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

Encinitas, California (Ordinance 2016–12):

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

Laguna Beach, California (Ordinance 1480):

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

Miami Beach, Florida (Ordinance 2014–3884):

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

Milpitas, California (Ordinance 293):

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

Satellite Beach, Florida (Ordinance 1129):

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

The Sierra Club:

  • “Although they do fragment through mechanical action and photodegradation in the presence of light, these processes are slow taking an estimated 200+ years to complete. When a polystyrene item kills an animal, the item may go on to kill again.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

C. Nearly Un-Recyclable

Abington, Massachusetts:

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

Clean Water Action California:

  • “EPS has a very low recycling rate. According to a 2004 study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, of the 377,580 tons of polystyrene produced in the state, only 0.8% is recycled. Of that, only 0.2% (310 tons) of polystyrene food service packaging is recycled.”

Culver City, California (Ordinance 2017–008):

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Some of the waste generated in Lenox ends up in landfills in other communities, with the potential for Polystyrene to litter the surrounding areas.

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

Miami Beach, Florida (Ordinance 2014–3884):

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

Monterey, California (Ordinance 3426):

  • “Food service-ware made from polystyrene foam is not biodegradable, returnable, or practically recyclable.”
  • “It is not economically feasible at this time to recycle polystyrene foam in or near the City of Monterey.”

Montgomery County, Maryland (Local Law 41–14):

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

Salinas, California (Ordinance 2519):

  • “Polystyrene foam means and includes expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is not collected for recycling in the Central Coast region because it is not economically viable.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “Recycled polystyrene has very little market value and can only be used to make a small range of products, most of which cannot be recycled themselves.”
  • “Polystyrene foam packaging and food service ware cannot be recycled through San Francisco’s recycling (blue bin) collection program and is otherwise difficult or impossible to recycle, and is not compostable. Compostable or recyclable disposable packaging and food service ware are an affordable, safe, more ecologically sound alternative.”

San Mateo County, California (Ordinance 04542):

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

Satellite Beach, Florida (Ordinance 1129):

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

Takoma Park, Maryland (Ordinance 2014–62):

The Sierra Club:

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Polystyrene is not recycled because it is not economic to wash, degrease, transport, and store in order to recycle.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

D. Polluted Environment, Beaches, Oceans, and Waterways

Alameda, California (Ordinance 2977):

  • “It enters the marine and natural environment and is damaging to the environment and marine wildlife.”

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “In the product manufacturing process as well as the use and disposal of the products, the energy consumption, greenhouse gas effect, and total environmental effect, polystyrene’s environmental impacts were second highest, behind aluminum, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.”
  • “Polystyrene foam is a common environmental pollutant as well as a non- biodegradable substance used as food service ware by food vendors operating in the City of Albany.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene does not effectively biodegrade (decay into constituent substance) in the environment, but merely breaks down into smaller particles, that litter the City’s streets, parks, public places, and open spaces and eventually is carried to the area’s beaches and ocean.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene food service products, by their nature, have a useful life that can measured in minutes or hours, yet the material takes up valuable space in landfills for an indefinitely long period of time.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Polystyrene manufacture, use, and disposal requires substantial energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gases and other adverse environmental effects.”

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene as litter is highly durable and is present in many public places, streets and roads, waterways and storm drains which may ultimately float, or be blown, into the Pacific Ocean.”
  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products within the City will help protect the City’s natural environment from contamination and degradation.”
  • “According to the California Department of Transportation, expanded polystyrene products (“EPS”) comprises approximately 15% of storm drain litter and is the second most common form of beach debris in California. Also, plastic products, including expanded polystyrene, make up 80–90% of floating marine debris.”

Belmont, California (Ordinance 1065):

  • “The City Council of the City of Belmont finds that polystyrene-based, single-use food service ware constitutes a substantial portion of the litter within the City of Belmont.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “Polystyrene foam is a petroleum processing by-product. Oil is a non-renewable resource, which can only be obtained by increasingly hazardous methods such as off-shore drilling, which poses significant dangers to the environment.”
  • “Takeout food packaging constitutes the single greatest source of litter in Berkeley and is a significant contributor to the total amount of waste entering the City’s waste stream.”

Brisbane, California (Ordinance 590):

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Plastic pollution had proliferated such that there are six times as many bits of plastic waste in the surface layer of the Pacific Ocean as marine life.”
  • “Plastic waste originating from the United States has been found at Midway Atoll in the far reaches of the Pacific, and every cubic yard of sediment in California’s costal creeks and streams contains one-half pound of plastic waste.”

California Integrated Waste Management Board:

Clean Water Action California:

  • “Roughly 80 percent of marine debris originates from land-based sources. Plastics comprise 90 percent of floating marine debris.”
  • “A study of beach debris at 43 sites along the Orange County coast found EPS was the second most abundant form of beach debris.”
  • “Styrene can be found in air, water, and soil after release from the manufacture, use, and disposal of styrene-based products.”

Culver City, California (Ordinance 2017–008):

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “Numerous studies have documented the prevalence of EPS debris in the environment, including storm drains, ocean waters and on beaches.”
  • “EPS products contribute to urban blight as litter, because, even when they have been disposed of properly, EPS products easily break down into smaller pieces, which are so light that they float in water and get carried by the wind.”
  • “EPS food service products, by their nature, have a useful life that can be measured in minutes or hours, yet these products take several decades to hundreds of years to biodegrade.”

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

  • “The use of polystyrene foam has negative environmental impacts including: litter, solid waste generation, and effects on wildlife.”

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

Encinitas, California (Ordinance 2016–12):

  • “The primary negative attribute of polystyrene foam is that it is non-biodegradable and persists in the environment for decades. Thus, the polystyrene foam litter seen today will still be around several years from now, accumulating rather than biodegrading.”

Fairfax, California (Ordinance 623):

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene breaks into small pieces and because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “Expanded Polystyrene as litter is highly durable and is present in many public roads, waterways and storm drains which may ultimately float, or be blown, into the Pacific Ocean.”
  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products within the City will help protect the City’s natural environment from contamination and degradation.”

Laguna Beach, California (Ordinance 1480):

  • “Expanded Polystyrene foam material easily breaks into smaller pieces and is so light that it floats in water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

  • “Polystyrene foam — both extended (EPS) and extruded (XPS) — products are not biodegradable and as a result persist in the environment for hundreds of years.”
  • “Polystyrene foam breaks down into smaller pieces that migrate onto public property and into the City’s storm drain system, even when disposed of properly.”

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

Manhattan Beach, California (Ordinance 13–0009 & 14–0003):

  • “Littered polystyrene, especially expanded foam, is difficult to clean up and may cumulatively result in increased litter.”
  • “Reduction of polystyrene in the environment will advance compliance with Federal, State and City clean water mandates, including compliance with the Total Maximum Daily Loads and other requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.”

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

  • “The City is situated adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and during regular beach clean-ups, expanded polystyrene products are found and discarded.”
  • “Items made from expanded polystyrene are not biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable locally and expanded polystyrene as litter is high durable.”
  • “Expanded polystyrene breaks into small, lightweight pieces that may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of property, and flow or be flown into creeks and the Pacific Ocean, contributing to water quality and habitat protection concerns.”
  • “Regulating the use of expanded polystyrene products within the City will help protect the City’s natural environment from contamination and degradation.”
  • “Expanded polystyrene is manufactured from petroleum, a non — renewable resources.”

New York City, New York:

Miami Beach, Florida (Ordinance 2014–3884):

  • “Disposable food service articles constitute a portion of the litter in the City of Miami Beach’s streets, parks, public places, and waterways.”

Milpitas, California (Ordinance 293):

Monterey, California (Ordinance 3426):

  • “The City of Monterey has seen first-hand the impact of polystyrene foam plastic lifter in our storm drains, in our fields, on our roadways and highways, in our rivers, in the ocean and on our beaches. Banning polystyrene foam take-out packaging locally will help to address marine pollution by requiring the use of environmentally preferable alternatives while helping to educate business owners and citizens on the positive impact their packaging choices can make.”
  • “Polystyrene foam breaks into smaller pieces and, because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been placed in a waste receptacle.”
  • “A prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging, which is highly durable and persists longer than any other type of refuse, litters parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and beaches. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown into the Monterey Bay.”

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

  • “EPS material easily breaks down into smaller pieces and is so light that it floats in the water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “Numerous studies have document the prevalence of EPS debris in the environment, including storm drains and on beaches.

Ojai, California (Ordinance 837):

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

  • “Trash and litter for polystyrene products affects the City’s parks, streets, creeks, and waterfront’s beauty and recreation activities, impacting the quality of life for residents.”

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

  • “Single use nonrecyclable, nondegradable packaging and plastic containers are considered to be a fundamental cause of problems associated with municipal waste disposal and litter.”
  • “The economic and environmental problems associated with nondegradable substances mixed with degradable substances in the waste stream are so severe that a program to modify the composition of the solid waste in the waste stream thereby reducing the environmental hazards and toxicity associated with solid waste incineration, and encouraging the composting of putrescible biodegradable wastes and encouraging other forms of recycling of solid waste substances is hereby determined to be the policy of the City of Rahway.”
  • “The widespread use of plastics, especially polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, pose a threat to the environment by posing unnecessary taking of landfill space, and/or when incinerated, by the possible introduction of toxic by-products into the atmosphere.”

Salinas, California (Ordinance 2519):

  • “Laws, policies, and regulations pertaining to disposable food service wares are a vital component in the City of Salina’s efforts to reduce the amount of disposed waste.”
  • “The City of Salinas has seen first-hand the impact of polystyrene foam plastic litter in the City’s storm drains, agricultural fields, roadways and highways, and in the Salinas River.”

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

  • “EPS material easily breaks down into smaller pieces and is so light that it floats in water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

  • “The Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association and Caltrans found that between 8 to 15% of plastics in San Francisco storm drains are polystyrene foam.”
  • “The San Francisco Estuary Institute found that 8% of the micro-plastics entering San Francisco Bay from wastewater treatment facilities are polystyrene foam.”

San Mateo County, California (Ordinance 04542):

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “Polystyrene foam easily breaks up into smaller pieces and because it is lightweight, is carried by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly.”
  • “As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting and detracting from the appearance of an area longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam debris littering our parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and beaches. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into the Monterey Bay.”
  • “Discarded polystyrene constitutes a significant portion of the County of Santa Cruz waste stream.”
  • “Laws, policies and regulations pertaining to this material, which is difficult to recycle, have become a vital component in the efforts to reduce the amount disposed waste.”
  • “According to local environmental organizations, despite the passage of the County’s Environmentally Acceptable Packaging Materials Ordinance in 2008, polystyrene foam is still one of the most abundant types of litter found during beach cleanups.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

  • “EPS material easily breaks down into smaller pieces and is so light that if floats in water and is easily carried by the wind, even when it has been disposed of properly.”

Satellite Beach, Florida (Ordinance 1129):

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “Eliminating all non-biodegradable, non-returnable, and non-recyclable food packaging material from all establishments within the City of Scotts Valley will protect the City’s environment from contamination and degradation.”
  • “As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging littering City parks and public places, streets and roads, storm drains and waterways. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into local creeks and into the Monterey Bay. This litter creates a financial cost to City residents and an environmental cost to natural resources.”

Seattle, Washington (Ordinance 122751):

Solana Beach, California (Ordinance 466):

  • “Plastics also leech chemicals wherever they end up, including solids and into the water.”
  • “Approximately 80% of all refuse that ends up in the oceans come from land.”
  • “Refuse found and collected along San Diego County coasts is primarily comprised of plastics. San Diego Coastkeeper reports that in 2014, 46% of debris collected was plastic. Many of the plastics collected were pieces less than one inch in diameter, and much of it was non-recyclable expanded polystyrene foam.”
  • “Polystyrene is particularly harmful to the environment because it is frequently used for single-use purposes. A website by Californians Against Waste estimates that 377,579 tons of expanded polystyrene are produced in California and that 154,808 tons of that type of polystyrene are made specifically for food service packaging that ends up in the landfill. Either these products are immediately disposed of after a single use, or they are dispersed into the environment either intentionally or accidentally from being blown by the wind or falling out of trash receptacles, for example.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

The Sierra Club:

  • “When polystyrene items finally do break down, they do not dissolve into benign substances: they just fracture into smaller and smaller bits called microplastics. These small particles present the greatest long-term danger, as these particles displace food supplies in the world’s oceans. Once microplastics enter our oceans, they will stay there virtually forever, because they persist and their removal is not possible.”
  • “Polystyrene is made from non-renewable fossil fuels (oil and natural gas). The cost of natural gas, is relatively lower cost because of hydrofracking, which causes many environmental and health problems.”

United Nations:

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “The environmental impacts of polystyrene rank second behind aluminum for total environmental impacts especially in energy consumption and greenhouse gas effects.”
  • “Over 80% of plastic pollution to the ocean comes from urban litter such as polystyrene.”
  • “Polystyrene is not biodegradable and does not easily deteriorate in landfills, taking up more space than paper.”

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

E. Financial Burden on Local Government and Taxpayers

Abington, Massachusetts:

Alameda, California (Ordinance 2977):

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

Amherst, Massachusetts (Article 9):

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

Arroyo Grande, California (Ordinance 676):

  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products will maximize the operating life of landfills.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

  • “The City of Berkeley has the duty to responsibly dispose of its solid waste, yet existing landfill sites are rapidly approaching capacity, and additional sites are increasingly unavailable.”

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Existing landfill sites are rapidly approaching capacity, and additionally sites are increasingly unavailable.”
  • “Use and recycling of those alternative products saves the cost of disposing of waste in landfills and the energy and other resources used in production of new products.”

California Costal Commission:

Clean Water Action California:

  • “The County of Los Angeles (L.A.) spends $18 million annually on litter cleanup and education.”
  • “Some coastal communities spend considerable funds on beach cleaning. For example, L.A. County collects over 4,000 tons of trash annually on its beaches. In 1994, it cost the County over $4 million to clean 31 miles of beaches.”
  • “Since 2001, Southern California cities have spent in excess of $1.7 billion cleaning trash out of storm drain systems leading to the L.A. River and Ballona Creek in order to comply with stormwater regulations.”

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

  • “A deterioration in the quality of the City’s ocean waters and beaches threatens the public health, safety and welfare and negatively affects tourism and the local economy which depends on tourist trade.”

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

Grover Beach, California (Ordinance 18–01):

  • “Regulating the use of Expanded Polystyrene products will maximize the operating life of landfills.”

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

  • “Tourism is vital to Lenox’s economy and an increasing number of municipalities whose residents recreate in the Berkshires because of its natural beauty and pristine environmental image have acted to reduce the use of Polystyrene in Disposable Food Containers.”

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

New York City, New York:

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

Salinas, California (Ordinance 2519):

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “When products are recycled, natural resources are spared, less energy is used for the production of new products, and premium landfill space is preserved.”
  • “As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable, persisting longer than any other type of litter. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging littering City parks and public places, streets and roads, storm drains and waterways. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into local creeks and into the Monterey Bay. This litter creates a financial cost to City residents and an environmental cost to natural resources.”

Seattle, Washington (Ordinance 122751):

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

United Nations:

Westfield, Massachusetts Board of Health:

F. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam Alternatives

Albany, California (Ordinance 08–02):

  • “Affordable biodegradable or compostable food service ware products are increasingly available for several food service applications such as cold cups, plates and hinge containers and these products are more ecologically sound than polystyrene foam materials and can be turned into a compost product.”
  • “The natural compost product from these biodegradable or compostable materials is used as fertilizer for farms and gardens, thereby moving towards a healthier zero waste system.”
  • “Due to these concerns nearly 100 cities have banned polystyrene foam food service ware including several California cities, and many local businesses and several national corporations have successfully replaced polystyrene foam and other non-biodegradable food service ware with affordable, safe, biodegradable products.”

Aliso Viejo, California (Ordinance 2004–060):

Amherst, Massachusetts (Article 9):

  • “University of Massachusetts/Amherst College, and Hampshire College food services have eliminated single-use Expanded Polystyrene food containers in their dinning halls.”
  • “Appropriate alternative products are readily available from the vendors used by local food establishments; cooperative bulk buying arrangements are possible.”

Andover, Massachusetts (Article 56):

  • “Over 100 municipalities throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia have banned polystyrene food service ware, including Amherst, Brookline, Great Barrington, Somerville, and South Hadley in Massachusetts, as well as: Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Miami Beach, FL; Albany, NY; New York, NY; Portland, OR; and Seattle, WA.”

Belmont, California (Ordinance 1065):

  • “There are similarly-priced alternatives — Many restaurants use non-foam containers and have doing so for a long time. Since the 47 California jurisdictions have already implemented bans on EPS, there are many businesses that have made the switch. They can find comparably priced and even cheaper alternatives.”

Berkeley, California (Ordinance 5888-NS):

Brunswick, Maine (Ordinance 3–21–16):

Calabasas, California (Ordinance 2007–233):

  • “Biodegradable and recyclable products offer environmentally sound alternatives to products currently used. Biodegradable products decay, causing less harm to the environment and the landscape of the City than products now in use.”
  • “Use and recycling of those alternative products saves the cost of disposing of waste in landfills and the energy and other resources used in production of new products.”
  • “Bioplastics are commercially available and scientific studies show that these materials biodegrade both in compost and in the natural environment and return their base constituents to the food chain, such materials can be composted even if contaminated with food waste, and sugar cane stock (also known as bagasse) is suitable for hot foods and beverages”

Clean Water Action California:

Dana Point, California (Ordinance 12–03):

Davis, California (Ordinance 2501):

El Cerrito, California (Ordinance 2013–04):

  • “Compostable food ware products such as cups, plates, bowls and hinged containers are available in local stores, are increasingly available in the food service market.”

Encinitas, California (Ordinance 2016–12):

Fairfax, California (Ordinance 623):

Gloucester, Massachusetts:

Laguna Beach, California (Ordinance 1480):

Laguna Woods, California (Ordinance 12–06):

Lenox, Massachusetts Board of Health:

Millbrae, California (Ordinance 717):

  • “Due to these concerns, cities began banning polystyrene foam food service ware including several California cities such as Berkeley (1990), Oakland (2007), and San Francisco (2007) where local businesses and several national corporations have successfully replaced it and other non-biodegradable food service ware with affordable, safe, biodegradable products.”

Milpitas, California (Ordinance 293):

Morro Bay, California (Ordinance 600):

Newport Beach, California (Ordinance 2008–17):

Oakland, California (Ordinance 12747):

  • “The Oakland Coliseum has successfully replaced its cups with biodegradable corn starch cups and has shown an overall cost savings due to organics recycling.”
  • “Over 155 businesses in Oakland engage in organics recycling and it has been demonstrated that the use of biodegradable or compostable food service ware can reduce waste disposal costs when the products are taken to composting facilities as part of an organics recycling program rather than disposed in a landfill.”
  • “The natural compost product from these biodegradable or compostable materials is used as fertilizer for farms and gardens, thereby moving towards a healthier zero waste system.”

Ojai, California (Ordinance 837):

Pinole, California (Ordinance 2018–01):

Rahway, New Jersey (Ordinance O-53–96):

San Clemente, California (Ordinance 1533):

San Francisco, California (Ordinance 140–16):

San Mateo County, California (Ordinance 04542):

Santa Clara County, California (Ordinance 517.80):

  • “Affordable compostable food service ware products are becoming increasingly available for most food service applications such as cups, plates, and hinged containers and these products can be turned into a compost product.”

Santa Cruz County, California (Ordinance 5122):

  • “Biodegradable/compostable and recyclable take-out food packaging such as cups, plates, hinge containers, cutlery and straws are made from organic materials such as paper, sugarcane stalk, com waste and potato starch. These products are available locally and are competitively priced.”
  • “Alternative products exist for almost all uses of polystyrene foam.”

Santa Monica, California (Ordinance 2216):

Scotts Valley, California (Ordinance 182):

  • “When biodegradable products are turned into compost they can reduce water use and lessen the need for fertilizer.”
  • “biodegradable take-out packaging such as cups, plates, and clamshell containers are now made from paper, sugarcane stalk, corn bi-products, and potato starch. As these products degrade, they pose less of a danger to the environment and are not a permanent blight on the landscape. These products are available locally.”

South Portland, Maine (Ordinance 4–15/16):

Takoma Park, Maryland (Ordinance 2014–62):

The Sierra Club:

Westford, Massachusetts (Article 20):

  • “Appropriate alternative products are readily available from vendors and are already being used by many of our businesses.”

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system

Jeff Lewis

Written by

Full stack React/React Native developer, environmentalist, and beach bum.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system

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