According to Cleveland State University, polystyrene foam is carcinogenic, non-recyclable, and takes over million years to decompose.
Furthermore, the expandable foam beads are made of an extremely dangerous material damaging to marine animals, becoming stuck in their intestines and acting like a sponge for toxins and other life-threatening chemicals.
Considering all its negative effects to the environment and other living beings, in 2013, New York City became one of the first U.S. cities to ban the product. After countless lawsuits and other obstacles, the ban is now finally in effect.
According to a press release by the city, the law is officially in effect from January 1st, and restaurants have until June 1 to get rid of all the stock before they get fined for up to $1000 per offense if caught using polystyrene foam products.
“Single-service foam food and beverage containers cannot be recycled in a manner that is economically feasible, environmentally effective, and safe for employees as part of the City’s curbside recycling program,” city officials said.
The ban includes bowls, takeout clamshells, cups, plates, trays and “packing peanuts.”
According to research conducted by EPA, Americans alone go through 25 billion single-use polystyrene coffee cups a year that end up in the environment.
Other cities that have passed laws against the use of polystyrene are Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. though not all of them have officially started enforcing the law.
Maryland is very close to becoming the first state in the US to ban polystyrene.