Use of alternative products is environmentally superior.
Polystyrene foam containers consume less energy than paper containers, have lower atmospheric emissions, and contribute less to waterborne wastes than bleached paper products. According to IWMB, “when compared to many alternatives, the lifecycle impacts of PS [polystyrene] products that are properly disposed or recycled are positive and should be recognized.”[ii]
Foam is not recyclable.
Foam can be recycled. Recycled foam food service products can be reprocessed into building insulation, plastic lumber, and many other products. With programs like CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) and Recycla-Pak, customers can be environmentally friendly while enjoying the benefits of using insulated foam cups.
Small businesses can’t recycle foam.
Yes they can. The Dart Recycla-Pak collection bin doubles as the shipping carton used to return the collected cups for recycling at a Dart Container or industry recycling facility. The bin will be shipped to you flat and, after a simple assembly, you are ready to begin collecting used foam cups for recycling. During use, the divided interior of the bin keeps the collected cups neatly stacked. Programs like Recycla-Pak are unavailable for cups made of alternative materials, including paper cups. Paper cups are rarely, if ever, recycled due to the difficulty in separating the paper from its plastic coating. In many cases, even with the cost of recycling included, foam cups are very cost competitive with cups made of alternative materials.
There are no foam recycling centers.
Dart Container Corporation has 15 collection centers for recycling in North America. Dart operations have designated drop-off centers for individuals. Recycled foam food service products can be reprocessed into plastic lumber and crown molding.
Most alternatives to polystyrene foam food containers are a fraction of a penny more expensive than their foam counterparts.
"A typical polystyrene lunch tray costs around 3 cents compared to a biodegradable tray that can cost between 15 to 25 cents." Puente, 2001 [iii]
Foam is made of ozone depleting chemicals.
Polystyrene foam foodservice products are not manufactured with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or any other ozone-depleting chemicals; CFCs have not been used since 1980. In fact, Dart has never used CFCs in manufacturing molded foam cups.[iv] Polystyrene foam products are made from air and polystyrene and a “blowing” or “expansion” agent is used in the process.
Foam is filling up our landfills.
Foam foodservice products make up less than 1% by both weight and volume of our landfill waste. Most consumers who purchase paper cups don’t realize that more paper cups end up in landfills than foam cups.[v]
All paper products are biodegradable.
Paper cups are often coated with plastic. If a paper cup is coated in plastic it means that the cup is no longer biodegradable. Most paper cups need a plastic coat in order to retain liquid.
Polystyrene foam food containers are made with styrene, a dangerous chemical.
The U.S. National Toxicology Program has stated unequivocally that “styrene should not be confused with polystyrene (Styrofoam ™). Although styrene, a liquid, is used to make polystyrene, which is a solid plastic, we do not believe that people are at risk from using polystyrene products.” Styrene occurs naturally in foods such as beef, coffee, and cheese. [vi]
[i] Courtney Arthur, Joel Baker, And Holly Bamford, Editors, Proceedings Of The International Research Workshop On The Occurrence, Effects, And Fate Of Mircroplastic Marine Debris, Department Of Commerce, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, (Jan. 2009) available at http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/projects/pdfs/Microplastics.pdf
[ii] Iwmb, Use And Disposal Of Polystyrene In California, supra n. 1 at 19.
[iii] Kelly Puente, Recyclable Foam Trays a Cure for Long Beach Schools’ Headache, Press-Telegram, May 19, 2011, available at http://www.presstelegram.com/ci_18100171?source=rv.
[iv] Alexander, Judd H. In Defense of Garbage. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1993. 55.
[v] United States Environmental Protection Agency, Municipal Solid Waste in the United States 2010 Facts and Figures, November 2011, Table 3
[vi] National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences, Since You Asked – 12th Report On Carcinogens, Available At Http://Www.Niehs.Nih.Gov/News/Media/Questions/Sya-Roc.Cfm.