The Truth About EPS
The Problem: Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS, often referred to as Styrofoam®) is pervasive in the environment. It is extremely damaging throughout its lifecycle and is rarely recycled.
The environment is inundated with polystyrene. It is lightweight and breaks apart easily. EPS escapes litter cleanup and is widely dispersed on land and in waterways. It is often mistaken for food by birds, fish and other wildlife. EPS comprises 15% of street and storm drain litter. It causes flooding in storm drains. Foam degrades neighborhoods, parks and beaches.
Workers in polystyrene products manufacturing are exposed to many harmful chemicals, including Styrene, Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, Methyl Chloride, and Methyl Ketone. Occupational exposure to Styrene increases risk of lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, pancreatic cancer, urinary bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. High rates of neurotoxicological effects have been reported in workers.
Public health is threatened by the use of polystyrene. Styrene migrates from the containers into food and beverages when heated or in contact with fatty or acidic foods. Styrene residues are found in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue. Every American is exposed through food and packaging. According to the federal government, Styrene is a carcinogen in lab animal testing, a probable human carcinogen and a neurotoxin.
Local jurisdictions spend millions cleaning litter. Caltrans spends approximately $60 million a year to remove litter and debris from roadsides and highways, The County of Los Angeles (L.A.) spends $18 million annually on litter cleanup and education. Southern CA jurisdictions that have to comply with state storm water regulations to get their trash discharges to zero have already spent billions of taxpayer dollars controlling, capturing, and removing trash.
As a founding member of the Bay Area Green Supply Chain Forum, PulpWorks is leading the effort to replace toxic EPS with molded pulp products – in California, in the U.S.A. and worldwide.