N.J. considers crackdown on plastic foam containers

(weerapat/BigStock)

(weerapat/BigStock)

A bill advanced by the Assembly’s Environment Committee would prohibit public schools and colleges in New Jersey from selling food in foam containers.

Because food remains on the packaging, said Assemblyman Troy Singleton, the polystyrene containers are difficult to recycle, so most recycling places won’t take them.

Foam products take years to degrade, and small pieces of the discarded containers end up littering streets and waterways, said Singleton, D-Burlington.

“Because this stuff gets thrown out and finds its way into our waterways, by 2050 — which isn’t that far off — we will have more plastic in our ocean than fish,” he said.

Dennis Hart, who leads the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, said the foam containers are environmentally friendly.

“As you look at the overall life cycle of creation of a paper cup compared to creation of a Styrofoam, polystyrene cup, the significant energy production, significant costs, significant emissions that go into paper far exceed what goes in to making a Styrofoam cup,” Hart said.

Foam products are popular in food service because they’re relatively inexpensive, he said, and forcing schools to use costlier paper products might prompt them to complain that it’s an unfunded mandate.

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