Styrofoam Ban



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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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:



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

SCHOOL GREEN TEAM – Dishes and trays in the school lunchroom: Should your school choose reusable or disposable dishware?





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)

Annual Town Meeting (May 2018)


Town of Amherst Disposable Foam Food Service Container Ban

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.

Mass Green Network – List of Massachusetts Towns with Polystyrene Bans




01/28/20 – Westborough BOH passes polystyrene regulation

01/09/20 – Westborough to hold hearing regarding polystyrene reduction

07/16/19 – Westborough BOH Minutes 071619

05/14/19 – Westborough BOH Minutes 041619

05/14/19 – Westborough BOH Minutes 031219

05/14/19 – Grafton Town Meeting defeats marijuana zoning special permit, pass Common restoration, [and passes Styrofoam Ban]

05/10/19 – [Grafton] Town Meeting will address pot zoning, budget, polystyrene reduction

05/01/19 – Maine Becomes 1st State to Ban Single-Use Foam Containers

04/25/19 – Northborough Annual Town Meeting passes ban on plastic bags and polystyrene

04/16/19 – [Grafton] Citizen’s petition proposes polystyrene reduction

04/04/19 – [Sustainable Northborough] Group forms to push for plastic bag ban and reduction in Styrofoam use

03/10/19 – Affordable housing measures, Styrofoam ban on Westboro town meeting agenda

“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.”

03/06/19 – [Westborough] Voters at Westborough Town Meeting to decide fate of 39 articles [including a Styrofoam Ban]

02/27/19 – A Summary of the Town of Shrewsbury’s Polystyrene Reduction Bylaw

10/22/18 – Shrewsbury town meeting OKs funding for Beal school project [and Styrofoam Ban]

09/27/18 – Shrewsbury students recycle effort to ban Styrofoam

05/23/18 – Shrewsbury Town Meeting defeats Styrofoam ban

05/21/18 – Shrewsbury town meeting adopts $122M budget; defeats measure to ban Styrofoam

05/13/18 – Shrewsbury town meeting is asked to dump Styrofoam

04/18/18 – Northborough voters to decide on articles related to marijuana, plastic bags, and more

07/19/17 – A ‘new’ way to eat: NHS ditches plastic utensilsA ‘new’ way to eat: NHS ditches plastic utensils


05/01/19 – Maine Becomes 1st State to Ban Single-Use Foam Containers

04/30/19 – Dunkin’ on track to replace all foam cups with paper cups by end of [2019]

03/12/19 – Bill passes to make Maryland first state to ban foam food containers

01/07/19 – NYC’s controversial foam ban finally takes effect

03/06/18 – Foodservice Efficiency in K-12 Schools, Disposables vs Reusables

02/12/18 – The School District of Philadelphia & Baltimore City Public Schools Say Goodbye to Polystyrene in Cafeterias

02/07/18 – [Press Release] Dunkin’ Donuts to Eliminate Foam Cups Worldwide in 2020

02/07/18 – Dunkin’ Donuts to eliminate foam cups

06/06/15 – Schools Say Ciao To Plastic Lunch Trays, Hello To Compostable Plates

01/08/15 – De Blasio Administration Bans Single-Use Styrofoam Products in New York City Beginning July 1, 2015

12/08/12 – It’s not easy to replace foam lunch trays with greener options, school officials say

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