Replace Polystyrene Trays with Biodegradable Alternatives

Replace Polystyrene Trays with Biodegradable Alternatives

54,275 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
Petition to
Rochester Community Schools

Why this petition matters

Started by Tisha Bhat

Styrofoam is an “extruded polystyrene foam,” which heavily pollutes and affects our aquatic life as well as life on land. Producing Styrofoam calls for the use of fossil fuels, which rids us of our natural resources, harming our environment. Our landfills are 30% Styrofoam. Even though Styrofoam only accounts for 1% of all the pollution on the planet, 10 to 40% of litter found in streams is this harmful chemical. Because of its lightweight nature, the wind tends to blow it around, making it the number one pollutant. Styrofoam also breaks down into smaller pieces (but it does not go away). These minuscule particles are easily carried through our atmosphere and end up in the food sources of animals, causing several health concerns. To get rid of it, some even burn the Styrofoam causing it to release harmful styrene gas that hurts the environment and our bodies. 

There is a chemical called styrene in Styrofoam, and it can seep into food and drinks. It is classified as a carcinogen (cancer-causing) and can irritate the skin, eyes, upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. It is also known to cause tiredness, slow reaction time, and concentration, and balance problems. Impaired learning and sperm damage were also noted when exposed to high doses of styrene. It is a toxic chemical that is surrounding people all over the world due to the high usage of Styrofoam. Chronic exposure can cause severe effects such as depression, fatigue, disrupted kidney function, and hearing loss. When polystyrene is manufactured, various hydrocarbons are used, which reacts with nitrogen oxide to produce ground-level ozone. This harmful pollutant damages lung function and can eventually lead to respiratory problems. If schools continue to use Styrofoam products, this can severely impact a student's learning and health, making it essential to switch from Styrofoam plates to compostable ones. 

Compostable lunch trays would be the best alternative to Styrofoam ones, as they emit so much less carbon dioxide when being produced. Also, compostable lunch trays take a relatively short time to break down. In around only three months, microbes take the waste and create compost out of the product. On the other hand, Styrofoam that is tossed in a landfill where light cannot reach it, cannot biodegrade and could take millions of years to break down. Even when broken down, the fragments are large enough to harm an animal’s digestive system when ingested. When Styrofoam reaches a high temperature, small amounts of styrene can be separated from the plastic, causing anything surrounding it to be contaminated with toxic material. Since Compostable lunch trays are made of organic material, they would not leave behind dangerous substances that would endanger our safety. Furthermore, the Compost produced has many advantageous uses, such as enriching and fertilizing soil. This leads to surrounding plants and wildlife to thrive. Statistics show that in 2015, over 50 million tons of waste that could have been composted were incinerated in landfills. Incineration contributes to global warming and air or water pollution, a growing problem that can affect our everyday lives and health. Composting could reduce this harmful practice by 30%. In the past few years, the amount of composting programs in cities and towns has grown by 65%. Together, we can raise this percentage and combat the decay of our beloved earth. Although Compostables can be slightly more expensive than your average Styrofoam trays, it is so much more critical to use compostable plates to conserve resources, reduce pollution, and reduce waste in landfills, because if we don’t, who knows what the future of the planet could become. 

In this day and age, many people think right past the usage of plastics, Styrofoam, and other pollutants. Almost every single school across America uses these products daily, and no one considers the negative consequences of using these pollutants, and how much they can impact our beloved planet. So, we decided to take a stand and put an end to this. It isn’t going to be an automatic outcome, and it's probably going to be a long process filled with waiting and patience. Still, we must do this, so future generations don’t have trash and litter all over the earth. You might be wondering how only six high school students will do this all by themselves? Well, it all started as an idea, as every big accomplishment does. We reached out to our schools’ principal asking who to contact to achieve this goal. We have gotten in touch with our district's food services manager and the manufacturers of the compostable plates. We know that this isn’t nearly enough support to get this through to the schools in our district, so we hope to get more people to support us and take helping our planet to the next level. 

By signing the petition and giving us your support, you are contributing to the improvement of our environment and world. Your signature on this petition will make it possible for us to get rid of the Styrofoam lunch trays schools provide, and replace them with compostable ones. Your involvement in the petition will allow for a cleaner environment with far less carbon dioxide emissions than there are now. Your support is crucial to this cause and will allow us to make a difference on our planet! Thank you!

54,275 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!