Polystyrene foam, commonly known by Dow Chemical’s trade name styrofoam, needs to be banned.  This ubiquitous product has been produced since 1937.  Polystyrene was first isolated by a German scientist in 1839, and brought to market as a product for consumers in 1937.  Polystyrene is primarily used today in insulation and for disposable cups, and plates.

Common Polystyrene Package
Common Polystyrene Package

Egg producers also use styrofoam packaging for their eggs, but interestingly the organic egg producers have  dropped styrofoam packaging, and have move to recycled PET and corn based plastics.  The problem with polystyrene is that it ends up in our land fills.  There are several companies that are trying to recycle polystyrene, but they can only compress it and reuse it in insulation products.  The government does not allow recycled polystyrene to be used again in food packaging.  Several communities have already banned polystyrene products; they include San Francisco, Berkeley, and Palo Alto California.  There is an initiative in California to ban it from that state.  There are great alternatives to polystyrene packaging, especially in food packaging.  Corn based bio plastics are now being used in plates and utensils.  Even recycled cardboard food packaging is a great alternative to polystyrene.  This alternative packaging is showing up at take out counters across the country.  Corporations like McDonald’s need to ban styrofoam products, and move to corn based ones.  They alone could make a significant dent in reducing the styrofoam waste stream.  We have better alternatives to styrofoam, now is the time to ban it completely from our landscape.

John Vlahakis