Last year, the city of Brookline made the decision to ban polystyrene foam, a material that is often mistaken for Styrofoam; a trademark of the Dow Chemical Corp. Although many initially believed that this would be a good move for the city, the ban has a myriad of negative repercussions.
Due to negative misconceptions of polystyrene foam and its ability to be recycled, schools, businesses, government agencies and consumers now must spend the millions of dollars they previously saved using foam products on alternatives. Most hospitals rely on Styrofoam products (such as coolers and dishware) to minimize bacteria and pathogen exposure. Without foam products, economies in these cities must compensate the costs and spend additional money on expensive alternatives.
As a result, Brookline’s foam ban is widely opposed by many of the businesses it impacts. These food service businesses were forced to switch from the cheapest option when it came to food packaging-ware, to a more expensive solution, and subsequently forced to cut costs elsewhere. Many businesses believe that the city should further encourage polystyrene recycling and make recycling more consumer-friendly and accessible rather than banning the material. Businesses residing in other major areas of the state such as Boston hope that their city litigators will keep a Boston foam ban from going live.
Polystyrene foam is not on the short list of recyclables like glass and paper, but it should be. Recycling polystyrene foam is within everyone’s reach with the aid of several different organizations, such as the Polystyrene Recycling Council. Several resources, such as this organization’s website, offer search engines that tell consumers where their closest drop off site or recycling facility is. Additionally, polystyrene foam is light, so it is cheap and easy to mail to a recycling facility; if there isn’t one in proximity to you.