Environmental responsibility of polystyrene foam products is among one of GoFoam’s core values.
Foam manufacturers, like Dart Container Corporation, are developing new materials, products, and technologies with high-level engineer experts and making significant breakthroughs in environmental stewardship. Today, the concept of efficiency is often expressed as “sustainability,” “stewardship,” and “carbon footprint.”
“Sustainability” implies meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
“Stewardship” emphasizes implementation and entails managing our natural resources to ensure that they are available for present and future generations.
“Carbon footprint” is the total amount of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, emitted over the life cycle of a product or service.
- Polystyrene foam foodservice products are not manufactured with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or any other ozone-depleting chemicals. In fact, Dart never used CFCs in manufacturing molded foam cups.[iv]
- Dart Container Corporation’s sustainable efforts produced energy savings totaling approximately 8.4 trillion BTUs per year as of 2006 and 5 million watts – That’s enough energy saved each year to heat nearly 105,000 homes and power over 3,000 homes.
- Using foam makes sense because foam cups insulate better than plastic-coated paper cups. Paper cup users will often stack two cups together to protect their hand from hot temperatures – this practice doubles the amount of waste for plastic-coated paper cups over foam cups.
Polystyrene foam presently is recyclable in the few communities with curbside or drop-off site programs for foam products. However, foam manufacturers are innovating the way polystyrene foam is recycled for both food containers and product packaging. More than 40 cities and counties in California have curbside recycling for polystyrene foam containers. Recycled polystyrene foam can be used to make things such as clothes hangers, picture frames, rulers, and architectural molding.
The perception of foam is largely based on improper disposal (also known as littering), which is highly visible. The positive attributes of foam are less visible to the public and are associated with the production, use, and proper disposal of the product.
Foam foodservice products take up less than 1% of total landfill space and only account for 1.5% of total litter.[i]
Banning foam is not an effective way to deal with litter and will not reduce costs associated with litter cleanup. A polystyrene ban will force individuals and businesses to use alternative products, such as glass, aluminum, plastic-coated paper cups, and wax-covered cardboard, which can also cause litter.
“The amount of litter will not change, only its composition.” – Jean-Michel Cousteau, Environmentalist.[ii]
There is no evidence to show that litter-control costs declined in the cities that have already banned foam products because a foam ban will not stop people from littering. According to a 2004 report, by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB), bans are “not an effective long-term solution.”[iii]
NOAA research has not shown a clear link between any foam food containers and damage to marine life. Many alternatives to foam, such as plastic-lined paper cups, also do not biodegrade in a marine environment and therefore, are a source of long-term marine litter.
[i] Environmental Resources Planning, LLC, The Contribution of Polystyrene Foam Food Service Products to Litter, prepared by Steven R. Stein, May, 2012, pp 4, Table 1.
[iv] Natural Resources Defense Council Environmental Defense Fund Friends of the Earth. Statement of Support for The Foodservice Packaging Institute’s Fully Halogenated Chlorofluorocarbon Voluntary Phaseout Program. 12 April 1988.