Polystyrene plastic is suffocating our oceans and clogging up landfills. It's time for us to part ways!

ChrisMoody_shutterstock_112113077_0
Chris Moody/Shutterstock

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.

Polystyrene is a type of plastic manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals into two main forms:

  1. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which is typically used for cheap, disposable foodware (cups, plates, ‘clamshells’, etc.) and for packaging to protect goods during shipment.
  2. Solid polystyrene, which is often used for a variety of things including disposable cutlery, plastic models, CD and DVD cases, and smoke detector housings.
  3. 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.

Sierra Club


Sue Wolfe/Flickr

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.] 

Thank you,

[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.

Atlantis

Michael La Coursiere, Mayor and Group 4 Councilor
561.822.6210
mlacoursiere@atlantisfl.gov

Allan Kaulbach, Vice Mayor and Group 3 Councilor
561.822.6240
akaulbach@atlantisfl.gov

Keller Lanahan, Group 1 Councilor
561.822.6737
klanahan@atlantisfl.gov

Guy Motzer, Group 2 Councilor
561.822.6496
gmotzer@atlantisfl.gov

Peter Shapiro, Group 5 Councilor
561.822.6188
pshapiro@atlantisfl.gov

Belle Glade

Mayor Steve B. Wilson
swilson@belleglade-fl.com

Vice Mayor Mary Ross Wilkerson
mwilkerson@belleglade-fl.com

Treasurer Michael C. Martin
mmartin@belleglade-fl.com

Commissioner Johnny Burroughs, Jr.
jburroughs@belleglade-fl.com

Commissioner Larry Underwood
lunderwood@belleglade-fl.com

Boca Raton

Monica Mayotte
MMayotte@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Andrea Levine O’Rourke
AORourke@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Jeremy Rodgers
JRodgers@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Andy Thomson
AThomson@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Boynton Beach

Mayor Steven B. Grant, At-Large
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

Briny Breezes

The Briny Breezes website only has a phone number listed: 561-276-7405

Delray Beach

Mayor Shelly Petrolia
Petrolia@mydelraybeach.com

Vice-Mayor Ryan Boylston
Boylston@mydelraybeach.com

Deputy Vice-Mayor Shirley Johnson
Johnson@mydelraybeach.com

Commissioner Adam Frankel
Franke@mydelraybeach.com

Commissioner Juli Casale
Casale@mydelraybeach.com

Greenacres

Joel Flores, Mayor
jflores@greenacresfl.gov

Judith Dugo, Deputy Mayor, District III
jdugo@greenacresfl.gov

John Tharp, Councilmember, District I
jtharp@greenacresfl.gov

Peter A. Noble, Councilmember, District II
pnoble@greenacresfl.gov

Jonathan G. Pearce, Councilmember, District IV
jpearce@greenacresfl.gov

Paula Bousquet, Councilmember District V
pbousquet@greenacresfl.gov

Gulf Stream

Mayor, Scott Morgan
smorgan@gulf-stream.org

Vice Mayor, Thomas Stanley
tstanley@gulf-stream.org

Joan Orthwein
jorthwein@gulf-stream.org

Paul Lyons
plyons@gulf-stream.org

Donna S. White
dwhite@gulf-stream.org

Haverhill

Jay Foy Mayor
jfoy@townofhaverhill-fl.gov

Lawrence Gordon Vice Mayor
lgordon@townofhaverhill-fl.gov

Mark Uptegraph Council Member
muptegraph@townofhaverhill-fl.gov

Dennis Withington Council Member
dwithington@townofhaverhill-fl.gov

Ray Caranci Council Member
rcaranci@townofhaverhill-fl.gov

Highland Beach

Mayor Douglas Hillman
dhillman@highlandbeach.us

Vice-Mayor Greg Babij
gbabij@highlandbeach.us

Commissioner Peggy Gossett-Seidman
pseidman@highlandbeach.us

Commissioner Evalyn David
edavid@highlandbeach.us

Commissioner John Shoemaker
jshoemaker@highlandbeach.us

Hypoluxo

Michael C. Brown Mayor
mcbrown@hypoluxo.org

Richard J. Roney Vice Mayor
rroney@hypoluxo.org

Linda Allen Council Member
lallen@hypoluxo.org

Bradley R. Doyle Council Member
bdoyle@hypoluxo.org

Robert Leupp Council Member
rleupp@hypoluxo.org

Christine Nagy Council Member
cnagy@hypoluxo.org

Juno Beach

Jason Haselkorn, Mayor
jhaselkorn@juno-beach.fl.us

Vice Mayor Jim Lyons
jlyons@juno-beach.fl.us

Councilmember Peggy Wheeler
pwheeler@juno-beach.fl.us

Councilmember Stuart Katz
skatz@juno-beach.fl.us

Jupiter

Todd Wodraska, Mayor
toddw@jupiter.fl.us

Councilor Jim Kuretski
jimk@jupiter.fl.us

Councilor Ilan Kaufer
ilank@jupiter.fl.us

Councilor Ron Delaney
rond@jupiter.fl.us

Councilor Cameron May
cameronm@jupiter.fl.us

Lake Park

Mayor Michael O’Rourke
mo’rourke@lakeparkflorida.gov

Commissioner Erin Flaherty
eflaherty@lakeparkflorida.gov

Vice-Mayor Kimberly Glas-Castro
kglas-castro@lakeparkflorida.gov

Commissioner John Linden
jlinden@lakeparkflorida.gov

Commissioner Roger Michaud /
rmichaud@lakeparkflorida.gov

Lake Worth Beach

Pam Triolo, Mayor
561-586-1735
ptriolo@lakeworthbeachfl.gov

Scott Maxwell, Commissioner, District 1
561-586-1731
smaxwell@lakeworthbeachfl.gov

Omari Hardy, Commissioner, District 2
561-586-1732
ohardy@lakeworthbeachfl.gov

Andy Amoroso, Commissioner, District 3
561-586-1733
aamoroso@lakeworthbeachfl.gov

Herman Robinson, Commissioner, District 4
561-586-1734
hrobinson@lakeworthbeachfl.gov

Lantana

David J.Stewart, Mayor
dstewart@lantana.org

Karen Lythgoe, Councilmember
klythgoe@lantana.org

Mark Zeitler, Councilmember
mzeitler@lantana.org

Malcolm Balfour, Vice Mayor Pro Tem
mbalfour@lantana.org

Lynn Moorhouse, D.D.S., Vice Mayor
lmoorhouse@lantana.org

Loxahatchee Groves

Phillis Maniglia, Councilmember, Seat 1
pmaniglia@loxahatcheegrovesfl.gov

Laura Danowski, Councilmember, Seat 2
ldanowski@loxahatcheegrovesfl.gov

Lisa El-Ramey, Mayor, Seat 3
Lel-ramey@loxahatcheegrovesfl.gov

Robert Shorr, Councilmember, Seat 4
rshorr@loxahatcheegrovesfl.gov

Marg Herzog, Vice Mayor, Seat 5
mherzog@loxahatcheegrovesfl.gov

North Palm Beach

Susan Bickel Mayor
sbickel@village-npb.org

Mark Mullinix Vice Mayor
mmullinix@village-npb.org

David Norris President Pro Tem
dnorris@village-npb.org

Deborah Searcy Councilmember
dsearcy@village-npb.org

Darryl Aubrey Councilmember
daubrey@village-npb.org

Palm Beach

Gail L. Coniglio, Mayor
gconiglio@townofpalmbeach.com

Margaret Zeidman, Council President
mzeidman@townofpalmbeach.com

Bobbie Lindsay, Council President Pro-Tem
blindsay@townofpalmbeach.com

Julie Araskog, Council Member
jaraskog@townofpalmbeach.com

Lew Crampton, Council Member
lcrampton@townofpalmbeach.com

Danielle H. Moore, Council Member
dmoore@townofpalmbeach.com

Palm Beach Gardens

Carl W. Woods, Mayor
cwoods@pbgfl.com

Maria G. Marino, Vice Mayor
mmarino@pbgfl.com

Rachelle A. Litt, Vice Mayor Pro Tem
rlitt@pbgfl.com

Mark T. Marciano, Councilmember
mmarciano@pbgfl.com

Chelsea S. Reed, Councilmember
creed@pbgfl.com

Riviera Beach

Ronnie L Felder
(Mayor)
rfelder@rivierabeach.org

Tradrick McCoy
(District 1)
tmccoy@rivierabeach.org

KaShamba Miller-Anderson
(District 2)
kmiller-anderson@rivierabeach.org

Shirley D. Lanier
(District 3)
slanier@rivierabeach.org

Dr. Julia Botel
(District 4)
jbotel@rivierabeach.org

Douglas Lawson
(District 5)
dlawson@rivierabeach.org

Royal Palm Beach

Fred Pinto, Mayor
fpinto@royalpalmbeach.com

Jeff Hmara, Vice Mayor, Group #1
jhmara@royalpalmbeach.com

Selena Samios, Councilwoman, Group #3
ssamios@royalpalmbeach.com

Jan Rodusky, Councilwoman, Group #4
jrodusky@royalpalmbeach.com

Richard Valuntas, Councilman, Group #2
rvaluntas@royalpalmbeach.com

West Palm Beach

Kelly Shoaf, District 1 Commissioner
kshoaf@wpb.org

Cory Neering, District 2 Commissioner
cneering@wpb.org

Christy Fox, District 3 Commissioner
cfox@wpb.org

Joseph Peduzzi, District 4 Commissioner
jpeduzzi@wpb.org

Christina Lambert, District 5 Commissioner
clambert@wpb.org

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