New Jersey considering a ban on styrofoam containers in schools

(Big Stock photo)

(Big Stock photo)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit public schools and universities from selling food and beverages in Styrofoam containers.

Henry Gajda with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters told lawmakers it takes about 500 years for a Styrofoam cup to biodegrade. “As it breaks apart it becomes increasingly embedded in our lands and waters littering our coasts with toxic shards of expanded foam,” he said. “It has the hazardous ability to absorb toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides, bioaccumulating throughout the food chain, generating imminent and persist threats throughout these ecosystems and to our public health.”

Dennis Hart with the Chemistry Council of New Jersey opposes the bill. He said there would also be an environmental impact from paper products or other substitutes that schools would use. “The costs involved of replacing by our public school system will be a very large cost. And we think that needs to be looked at much more carefully before making a decision of this magnitude in New Jersey,“ said Hart.

Michael Vrancik with the New Jersey School Boards Association said while there might be some replacement costs, the legislation would not take effect until a year after it was passed. “So that the districts who do use this stuff would have some time to work through the supply that they have,” he said.

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Advocates hope the ban on school sales of Styrofoam containers would be the first step to a total statewide prohibition of those products.

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