Styrofoam is a brand name of the white material, which is actually called expanded polystyrene (EPS).
This material is used for the production of the foam hinged containers in order to preserve the sandwiches to retain their freshness and taste.
They are perfect for take-out at food stands and restaurants and allows people to freeze, refrigerate, and keep food warm. The majority of people assume that Styrofoam must be safe since it’s often what our takeaway comes in.
This material is actually doing numerous bad things to the environment, but it isn’t just bad for the environment it’s bad for the health, too.
It contains a harmful chemical (styrene) that can leech into food and drink.
Even worse, according to the National Research Council, it is classified as a carcinogen to humans.
According to Cleveland State University, Styrofoam is non-recyclable, carcinogenic, and it needs a long time to decompose (could be a million years).
The expandable foam is particularly dangerous to marine animals, as they can be lodged in their intestines and to act as a sponge for other toxins.
In 2013, because of those reasons, New York City became one of the first U.S. cities to ban the product.
That ban is now finally in effect, as the lawsuits and other hurdles are finished. It became official on January 1st, 2019 but restaurants still can use them until June 1 before they get punished.
Banned products include single-service items, such as:
- Takeout containers
- Packing peanuts (foam loose fill packaging)
According to the EPA, Americans alone throw away 25 billion polystyrene coffee cups a year, so other cities, such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Washington D.C. have enacted laws against polystyrene, but not all of them have come into effect yet.