Towards A Polystyrene Policy
A few issues ago, I wrote about The New Brighteners’ aim to see New Brighton become Polystyrene free. We always knew it would be a big task. In addition to the environmental issues, there are economic issues. For instance, it is more expensive to use environmentally friendly food containers rather than polystyrene. This is an important issue for small independent food retail outlets, and not to be ignored.
This brings us round to the use of polystyrene containers by event caterers, which inevitably get strewn around the landscape and beaches. Events such as the Rally Stages along Kings Parade, and running events such as the 10K and Half Marathons, leave in their wake polystyrene containers, cardboard boxes, empty sugar and sauce sachets, plastic spoons, forks and bottles and empty gel energy packs, all of which are very bad for the environment, and make New Brighton look a mess.
However, we’ve recently discovered that the polystyrene problem cannot begin to be tackled for one major reason. Wirral Council does not have a specific polystyrene policy. Yes, it was a surprise for us as well.
The city of Oxford has proposed that Polystyrene take-away food containers should be banned, and similar bans have already been imposed in a number of US cities and towns.
The New Brighteners have begun to work with Wirral Council, particularly liaising with our New Brighton Cllrs; Rob Gregson, Pat Hackett and Chris Spriggs and with Cllr Bernie Mooney (Environment and Sustainability), to develop an official Polystyrene Policy. Once this is done, and it will take some time as these things do, then the Council’s event team can instruct caterers concerning no polystyrene use. Then we can begin to see a change in polystyrene use.
But why all this Polystyrene Ballyhoo? This is why:
Last year (2014) the National Research Council (NRC) affirmed that the organic compound styrene can “reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
Toxic chemicals leach out of styrene products into the food that they contain (especially when heated in a microwave), which threaten human health and reproductive systems.
Hydrocarbons are released during polystyrene manufacture, which, in the presence of sunlight, form tropospheric ozone – a serious air pollutant at ground level.
Polystyrene is dumped, in significant amounts, into the environment as litter, and is a major component of plastic debris in the ocean. It is notorious for breaking up into very small pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems. Furthermore, discarded polystyrene does not biodegrade for hundreds of years and is resistant to photolysis (the breaking down of material through the absorption of [sun] light).
There are lots of alternatives to Polystyrene…….
Recycled paper, bamboo, corn plastics, etc. are easily renewable resources that can be used instead of Polystyrene for take-out fast food containers, whether for fish & chips, burgers, tea, coffee etc., AND all of these products are biodegrade and easily recycled.
So let’s all begin to move away from polystyrene, and all work towards….
The Polystyrene Free State of New Brighton