Polystyrene plastic is suffocating our oceans and clogging up landfills. It's time for us to part ways!
As a community, we need to make our concerns known to the people who can enact change: our elected officials.
The best way to do that is to be their resource for all things polystyrene. We need to have all of the information on what polystyrene is, why it’s a problem and suggested solutions for solving that problem. In this case, we are suggesting a ban on polystyrene on all city property.
WHAT IS POLYSTYRENE
Polystyrene is a type of plastic manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals into two main forms:
- Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which is typically used for cheap, disposable foodware (cups, plates, ‘clamshells’, etc.) and for packaging to protect goods during shipment.
- Solid polystyrene, which is often used for a variety of things including disposable cutlery, plastic models, CD and DVD cases, and smoke detector housings.
- Styrofoam (TM). The word styrofoam is often used to describe expanded polystyrene foam products; however, ‘Styrofoam’ is actually a trademarked term owned by The Dow Chemical Company for closed-cell extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam made for thermal insulation and craft applications. EPS foam is currently the correct term for any foam takeout ware or other expanded polystyrene foam products not manufactured by Dow.
The vast majority of these products are used in the restaurant industry.
But they don’t have to be! We now have alternative products that can be used in place of polystyrene. (Click here and scroll to page 8 to view our Buying Guide) Why would anyone continue to buy the polystyrene products that pollute our environment? Unfortunately, it’s fairly simple. Polystyrene products are cheap to manufacture and cheap to buy. However, with more and more reusable/biodegradable/compostable options on the market, this point should no longer be an issue. On top of the negative affects on the environment and wildlife, expanded foam takeout ware also affects human health. *Styrene residues are found in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue from exposure through food and packaging. Styrene has been classified as an anticipated human carcinogen and a neurotoxin.
SO, WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Rely on restaurants to take the initiative.
Bans and legislative action can be avoided altogether when businesses embrace the shared responsibility to reduce disposable items. For example, if customers are eating/drinking in a restaurant, offer them plates, glasses and mugs that are washed rather than thrown away. If customers order out, offer them incentives for reusable mugs, bags, etc. if possible. Several Surfrider Foundation chapters have an Ocean Friendly Restaurants program to incentivize elimination of EPS foam foodware because it is a top item found at beach cleanups.
Enact local, regional or statewide bans on polystyrene.
Most of the current local ordinances banned EPS foam foodware, while a few also banned solid polystyrene foodware. On July 1, 2015 New York City became the largest city in the country to ban EPS foam. As of that date, food service establishments, stores and manufacturers may not possess, sell, or offer for use single service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam articles or polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” in New York City. This is our goal for Palm Beach County.
Here's your part!
We need your voices to be heard! A first, easy step to take is sending an email to your local elected officials. Below you will find talking points, sample subject lines and the email addresses for your respective city government officials.
*When speaking to an elected official or their staff, remember to always be respectful of them and their time, stay on topic, do not attack or threaten in any way (We are here to inform and act as their eyes in the community.), and only speak from your personal experiences.*
Your email can look something like this:
“Good [morning, afternoon, evening],
My name is [insert your name here] and I live at [insert your address here]. I am requesting the council consider a polystyrene ordinance on all city property. [Here is where you explain your perspective on polystyrene and plastic pollution in your city and along your beaches, and why you want to see a ban on these products in your city. Feel fee to attach photos/videos that you’ve taken, too.]
[Your name and contact info]
Although these talking points will help you craft your emails, they should not be the only words you send. Decision makers don’t want to hear the same points over and over. A variety of perspectives is key to getting our issue front and center.
- EPS foam litter is a global and local issue. (Possibly talk about some of the global issues, such as the ocean turning into a plastic soup, but be sure to bring it back to why action is needed locally.)
- EPS foam does not biodegrade in our lifetimes and can impact wildlife when littered – in addition to being an eyesore, costing taxpayer dollars to pick up and disproportionally filling up landfills.
- EPS foam is typically made from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals that may leach out over time, especially if in contact with hot, greasy or acidic food.
- Although inexpensive to buy, EPS can be expensive to clean up. Since they are so inexpensive, polystyrene products are often thrown away or littered after a single use. Many municipalities that have to comply with storm water regulations limiting trash in waterways have already spent substantial taxpayer dollars trying to control, capture, and remove trash, including EPS.
- EPS recycling is often not economical, so most of it gets landfilled or littered. Very few communities have access to polystyrene recycling. This form of plastic pollution should be addressed at the source instead of relying on more trashcans and ‘end of the pipe’ solutions of capturing and removing litter.
- There is concern regarding human health impacts. Research published in 2014 describes how polystyrene debris polluting Hawaii’s beaches breaks down into the monomer styrene, a suspected human carcinogen.
Your subject line of your email is another place you want to be sure to use unique wording. Most of the group emails or petitions that are sent with the exact same subject line are marked as spam and moved out of the decision maker’s inbox. Yes, 1 or 2 emojis are ok to use.
- Our oceans are turning into plastic soup. We must act now!
- Keep plastic pollution out of our environment.
- Ban polystyrene products from all city property.
- Please be a leader in keeping our oceans plastic-free.
- Protect our natural areas from polystyrene pollution.
- Be an ocean champion and ban polystyrene.
Click to download.
Allan Kaulbach, Vice Mayor and Group 3 Councilor
Keller Lanahan, Group 1 Councilor
Guy Motzer, Group 2 Councilor
Peter Shapiro, Group 5 Councilor
Vice Mayor Mary Ross Wilkerson
Treasurer Michael C. Martin
Commissioner Johnny Burroughs, Jr.
Commissioner Larry Underwood
Andrea Levine O’Rourke
Email: GrantS@bbfl.us | phone: (561) 742-6010 | Cell: (561) 376-1537
Vice Mayor Ty Penserga, District IV
Email: PensergaT@bbfl.us | phone: (561) 742-6010 | Cell: (561) 350-9232
Commissioner Justin Katz, District I
Email: KatzJr@bbfl.us | phone: (561) 742-6010 | Cell: (561) 827-0407
Commissioner Woodrow L. Hay, District II
Email: HayW@bbfl.us | phone: (561) 742-6010 | Cell: (561) 702-2107
Commissioner Christina Romelus, District III
Email: RomelusC@bbfl.us | phone: (561) 742-6010 | Cell: (561) 436-2826
Vice-Mayor Ryan Boylston
Deputy Vice-Mayor Shirley Johnson
Commissioner Adam Frankel
Commissioner Juli Casale
Judith Dugo, Deputy Mayor, District III
John Tharp, Councilmember, District I
Peter A. Noble, Councilmember, District II
Jonathan G. Pearce, Councilmember, District IV
Paula Bousquet, Councilmember District V
Vice Mayor, Thomas Stanley
Donna S. White
Lawrence Gordon Vice Mayor
Mark Uptegraph Council Member
Dennis Withington Council Member
Ray Caranci Council Member
Vice-Mayor Greg Babij
Commissioner Peggy Gossett-Seidman
Commissioner Evalyn David
Commissioner John Shoemaker
Richard J. Roney Vice Mayor
Linda Allen Council Member
Bradley R. Doyle Council Member
Robert Leupp Council Member
Christine Nagy Council Member
Vice Mayor Jim Lyons
Councilmember Peggy Wheeler
Councilmember Stuart Katz
Councilor Jim Kuretski
Councilor Ilan Kaufer
Councilor Ron Delaney
Councilor Cameron May
Commissioner Erin Flaherty
Vice-Mayor Kimberly Glas-Castro
Commissioner John Linden
Commissioner Roger Michaud /
Lake Worth Beach
Scott Maxwell, Commissioner, District 1
Omari Hardy, Commissioner, District 2
Andy Amoroso, Commissioner, District 3
Herman Robinson, Commissioner, District 4
Karen Lythgoe, Councilmember
Mark Zeitler, Councilmember
Malcolm Balfour, Vice Mayor Pro Tem
Lynn Moorhouse, D.D.S., Vice Mayor
Laura Danowski, Councilmember, Seat 2
Lisa El-Ramey, Mayor, Seat 3
Robert Shorr, Councilmember, Seat 4
Marg Herzog, Vice Mayor, Seat 5
North Palm Beach
Mark Mullinix Vice Mayor
David Norris President Pro Tem
Deborah Searcy Councilmember
Darryl Aubrey Councilmember
Margaret Zeidman, Council President
Bobbie Lindsay, Council President Pro-Tem
Julie Araskog, Council Member
Lew Crampton, Council Member
Danielle H. Moore, Council Member
Palm Beach Gardens
Maria G. Marino, Vice Mayor
Rachelle A. Litt, Vice Mayor Pro Tem
Mark T. Marciano, Councilmember
Chelsea S. Reed, Councilmember
Shirley D. Lanier
Dr. Julia Botel
Royal Palm Beach
Jeff Hmara, Vice Mayor, Group #1
Selena Samios, Councilwoman, Group #3
Jan Rodusky, Councilwoman, Group #4
Richard Valuntas, Councilman, Group #2
West Palm Beach
Cory Neering, District 2 Commissioner
Christy Fox, District 3 Commissioner
Joseph Peduzzi, District 4 Commissioner
Christina Lambert, District 5 Commissioner