Styrofoam: What it is
Polystyrene foam (commonly referred to as “styrofoam”) is generally used to make cups, bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays, and egg cartons. Styrofoam is recognized as a sturdy, sanitary, economical, and convenient product in Hawaii?s food service industries, but poses a serious threat to our environment and health, given its inherent non-biodegradable nature and chemical composition.
Styrofoam is a non-renewable petroleum by-product resource, composed of the chemicals styrene and benzene. Benzene is a classified carcinogen, and styrene is a neurotoxin that is also suspected to cause cancer. Styrofoam is inherently non-biodegradable and non-recyclable and is estimated to take hundreds of years to decompose.
Styrofoam: A Threat to Hawaii’s Environment & Ecosystems
Used styrofoam products are either buried in landfills across the State or are burned at H-POWER, the ash from which is then buried at the landfills. These products take up a substantial percentage of available landfill space in the State, and as they break down, dangerous chemicals are leaching in to the seepage of the landfills. This seepage is pumped out of the landfill and is inadequate processed and treated before being discharged into the ocean, further threatening marine ecosystems around the islands.
Additionally, failure to properly dispose of styrofoam food service-ware products (littering) is not only an aesthetic environmental concern but also endangers various creatures, including birds, marine mammals, and fish that mistake smaller, broken down pieces of foam for food, causing them to either choke or have their digestive systems clogged. find out more here
Styrofoam: A Threat to Our Health
As mentioned previously, styrofoam is composed of the chemicals styrene and benzene. Styrene is a neurotoxin, currently under review by the EPA to be formally classified as a human carcinogen and is suspected to cause cancer. There is growing concern that this harmful chemical leaches into food and liquids when heated in styrofoam food service-ware products.
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