WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
WE DID IT!
SHREWSBURY BANNED STYRFOAM CONTAINERS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2020!
Top Reasons Why Shrewsbury Should Ban Styrofoam Containers
Disposable food service containers like the trays in the School Cafeterias are made from expanded polystyrene (EPS commonly referred to as Styrofoam®). While inexpensive to purchase, Styrofoam is bulky and does not break down in landfills. Styrene, a key ingredient, was recently recognized as a carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Some argue that Styrofoam has a small environmental footprint because it requires very little energy to manufacture, but this argument ignores the rest of the product’s lifecycle, which includes factory worker exposure, a very limited period of use, and disposal with large volumes filling dwindling U.S. landfills or being incinerated locally with the risk of toxic emissions into the air we breathe.
What about our school cafeterias?
Here is the answer to ‘what is the alternative?’
While the ultimate sustainability goal is to have reusable trays & dishware, the following would be a general plan to get to the most sustainable situation for our school district.
- First (as part of the Styrofoam Ban), the recommendation would be to switch to compostable alternatives (e.g. trays, etc). Since we don’t compost, then the kids would just throw them away. However, this produces a powerful ‘domino effect‘ whereby using compostables helps create the opportunity for composting.
- Second (as a separate later effort), the school should look into starting a composing program and then those compostable aternatives (e.g. trays) could be composted instead of thrown away.
- Third (as a separate later effort), the school should go back to using dishwashers in the couple of schools that are equipped to even have them (e.g. Sherwood & Floral)
- Specifically for the new Beal School, while the new Beal School is begin designed as we speak, it is important to advocate for Beal to be setup for reusables & dishwashers.
For example: As an alternative to styrofoam trays, the Amherst Public School District currently uses Compostable Paper 5-Compartment Lunch Trays (note: the pricing on the site is retail and doesn’t reflect the bulk discount that a school would get).
Additionally, here is a great model for us to follow in our school district. Cafeteria Culture was the grassroots effort that led to not only getting styrofoam out New York City (NYC) Schools but eventually led to the NYC city-wide ban as well – what an inspiration!
NYC CAFETERIA CULTURE – Getting Styrofoam out of Schools
For a lot more reasons, check out these lists from great resources:
SIERRA CLUB MASSACHUSETTS – Polystyrene
MASSACHUSETTS GREEN NETWORK – Polystyrene Resources
MASSACHUSETTS GREEN NETWORK – List of Massachusetts Towns with Polystyrene Bans
SCHOOL NUTRITION FOUNDATION – Life Cycle Environmental and Cost Analysis of Disposable and Reusable Ware in School Cafeteria
Shrewsbury – ban effective January 2020
Grafton – ban effective January 2020
Northborough – ban effective January 2020
Westborough – ban effective July 2020
Upton – ban effective effective June 2020
Hopkinton – no ban yet
Maine – ban effective 2021
Special Town Meeting (Oct 2018)
- Citizens Petition to adopt a Polystyrene Reduction By-law (PASSED by majority vote)
- School Committee Statement re: May 2018 Annual Town Meeting Warrant Article re: Polystyrene Ban
Annual Town Meeting (May 2018)
- Styrofoam Ban Citizens Petition to adopt a bylaw regarding the use of expanded polystyrene disposable food and beverage containers by food establishments and town facilities in the Town of Shrewsbury. (DEFEATED 84-87 / 49%-51%)
- Massachusetts Sierra Club Endorsement of Article 14 Styrofoam Ban
- Polystyrene Ban Impact to Shrewsbury Public Schools (SPS) Report Slides 050918
Each year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam® cups, enough to circle the earth 436 times. (Harper’s Index )
On November 19, 2012 the Town of Amherst Massachusetts passed a bylaw prohibiting food establishments and Town facility users from dispensing prepared foods to customers in disposable food service containers made from expanded polystyrene (EPS commonly referred to as Styrofoam®), effective January 1, 2014. The by-law was proposed by the Town’s Recycling and Refuse Management Committee, in collaboration with The Amherst League of Women Voters, and The Hitchcock Center for the Environment.
POLYSTYRENE LOCAL VIDEOS
07/16/19 – Westborough BOH Minutes 071619
05/14/19 – Westborough BOH Minutes 041619
05/14/19 – Westborough BOH Minutes 031219
“Article 39 is a citizens’ petition that would establish a Polystyrene Reduction Bylaw. Modeled after a bylaw adopted in neighboring Shrewsbury last fall, the proposed bylaw would ban the use of disposable Styrofoam food service containers for serving or transporting prepared, ready-to-consume food or beverages, including takeout foods and leftovers from partially consumed meals prepared by a food establishment.”
STYROFOAM IN THE NEWS
02/07/18 – Dunkin’ Donuts to eliminate foam cups