Counties in New York State must take leadership and ban single-use Styrofoam packaging

 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to email your county leadership today!  

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, commonly referred to as StyrofoamTM, poses a significant and unnecessary risk to our environment and public health. This material is not biodegradable, and after being used for food service, it is not recyclable. Foam food packaging is only used for a short time and it can persist in the environment for generations—littering open spaces, polluting waterways, and harming wildlife. EPS foam is easily replaced by sustainable alternatives and immediate action is needed to protect our communities and environment.


Polluting Our Environment and Harming Wildlife

EPS foam is a common form of plastic pollution found at beach cleanups and littered in our communities.

·         In 2018, Riverkeeper conducted a shoreline cleanup of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and the New York City waterfront and found that foam pollution was the second most prevalent type of trash collected.

·         Over 2.3 million pieces of foam (over 580,570 foam take out containers) were collected by the Ocean Conservancy during their 2018 International Coastal Cleanup.

·         EPS foam contributes to the more than 22 million pounds of plastic that pollute the Great Lakes annually.


EPS foam doesn’t biodegrade; instead it breaks into small pieces and eventually becomes microplastic pollution in our waterways. Once microplastics enter our waterways, they act as toxic sponges, accumulating toxic chemicals present in the water, including pesticides and PCBs. The microplastics have been shown to accumulate toxins a million times higher than the surrounding waters. Studies show that when fish and aquatic life consume these microplastics, the chemicals are passed up the food chain to larger fish and wildlife, and ultimately, can end up on our dinner plates. Furthermore, EPS foam is derived from petroleum or natural gas and the manufacturing process increases greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change.


A Threat to Our Health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program listed styrene, a chemical in EPS foam, as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It is known to leach from food packaging containers into food and drinks, especially when exposed to heat. Exposure to styrene increases our risk of leukemia and lymphoma and can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, upper respiratory tract, and the gastrointestinal tract. Over fifty chemical byproducts are released during the manufacturing of polystyrene, contaminating air, water and communities that surround these facilities (several EPS foam manufacturers exist in Upstate New York).


Urge Your County to Ban EPS Packaging!

While some individual retailers—including McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts—have begun to voluntarily phase out the use of EPS foam, many others are refusing. Counties in New York State are therefore stepping up to protect their communities. Ulster, Albany, Suffolk, and Nassau Counties, as well as NYC, have banned EPS food packaging. If your county has not taken action, urge your county leadership to pass local legislation to ban single-use EPS packaging. Local legislation will protect our natural resources, reduce litter in our parks and waterways, benefit local recycling, and protect public health!


Feel free to cut and paste the following message in your email:


I am writing express my strong support for reducing Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam (aka StyrofoamTM) pollution in our community, and to urge you to introduce and pass local legislation to ban EPS foam packaging.

Polystyrene packaging can remain in our environment for generations, littering open spaces, polluting waterways, and harming wildlife. EPS foam cannot be recycled and eventually breaks into smaller pieces becoming microplastic pollution in our lakes and oceans.

Styrene, a chemical in EPS foam is known to leach from food packaging containers into food or drinks, especially when exposed to heat. There is no reason to continue using EPS containers when safer, more environmentally friendly alternatives exist.

I urge you to support local legislation to ban EPS foam packaging; doing so will protect our community and environment from this harmful product.

Thank you for your consideration. Please respond in writing with your position.


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