On February 17, 2017, the Rochester chapter of the Sierra Club published a petition proposing that local officials ban expanded polystyrene foam products from Monroe County. This ban has the potential to negatively impact both small restaurants and schools in the county.
The main reason the Sierra Club is issuing this petition is due to the misconception that polystyrene cannot be recycled. In fact, polystyrene foam is recycled in communities all across the country, including Monroe County. The Monroe County Eco Park, located in Rochester, accepts foam foodservice products for drop-off, as long as the foam is clean.
When properly recycled, polystyrene can be used to create picture frames, interior crown molding, garden nursery trays, rulers, and ballpoint pens, among other items.
Not to be mistaken with Styrofoam, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, polystyrene foam is most often used for foodservice products like cups, lids, plates, and takeout containers.
Small businesses in Monroe County rely on polystyrene foam for a variety of reasons; most notably for cost-effective and durable products. Foam is a less expensive and more durable option than alternatives, especially when it comes to cups.
If a local business has to spend more money on expensive alternatives, rather than polystyrene foam products, the result would be increased prices for local consumers. Those consumers would then look for a new business to patronize.
Schools would be just as negatively impacted as local businesses. Schools and school districts across the country are going through major budget cuts. They need to save as much money as possible in order to give children the necessary education that they need. Forcing schools to purchase more expensive products would take money away that could be spent on students, teachers, books, supplies, and more.
Rather than cause a variety of consequences for a thriving community, the Monroe County government should consider an alternative solution: recycling.