Ban The Use of Polluting Polystyrene Plastic Packaging In The UK

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One of the most ubiquitous and difficult to dispose of packaging materials used in a variety of settings including takeaway foods (such as ice-cream and curries) and drinks (such as coffee cups), electronic goods, electrical appliances, furniture and groceries is that of Polystyrene or 'Styrofoam' - a trade name for expanded polystyrene (EPS).

The volunteer initiative EcoMENA points out that "Polystyrene tends to take up significant space in rubbish bins which means that bins becomes full more quickly and therefore needs to be emptied more often [... and is] lightweight compared to its volume so it occupies lots of precious landfill space and can be blown around and cause a nuisance in the surrounding areas […] it is essentially non-biodegradable, taking hundreds perhaps thousands of years to decompose.  Even when already disposed of in landfills, EPS can easily be carried by the wind and litter the streets or end up polluting water bodies.  When EPS foam breaks apart, the small polystyrene components can be eaten by animals which can cause choking or intestinal blockage". 

Furthermore, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, "Polystyrene is the most common form of plastic found on beaches worldwide. Made from styrene—a known animal carcinogen and probable human carcinogen—it was ranked the 5th worst global industry in terms of toxic waste production by the Environmental Protection Agency. Typically, it is not recyclable."

Many UK Councils do not currently have polystyrene recycling processes in place.

Costa Rica, Honduras and various US states have recently taken the commendable step of banning such packaging for the sake of reducing the extent of plastic pollution in landfill sites and waterways. It is time for the UK to do the same for the sake of this planet and future generations.