Vol Dining and the Office of Sustainability are now offering reusable to-go boxes at Stokely’s Fresh Food Company, Rocky Top Dining, and Southern Kitchen through the Eco To-Go program. This program will aid in decreasing the amount of styrofoam in our waste stream, helping UT meet its zero waste goal. Be a part of our green movement and join the Eco To-Go Program!
Why Eliminate Styrofoam?
Styrofoam does not degrade or breakdown overtime. This means that it will sit in our landfills for centuries to come. However, often this waste does not even make it to the landfills. It will pollute our streets, waterways, and natural environments. This is an issue because it is hazardous and poisonous to wildlife – especially marine life. With so many affordable alternatives available that are reusable, recyclable or biodegradable, it makes no sense to continue use of such a detrimental single use product.
The Health & Environmental Risks of Styrofoam
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has established, Styrene, one of the main ingredients used to make polystyrene a petroleum-based plastic otherwise known as Styrofoam, as a possible human carcinogen (INCHEM, 2002).
The EPA considers the Benzene, another key ingredient used in making styrofoam as a carcinogenic and an air pollutant that reaches soil and water during the manufacturing process and if burned. (EPA, 2012).
Styrofoam is technically recyclable because it is polystyrene and is composed of chemical mixtures like plastics, but very few locations in the states accept it. In most recycling programs around the country, it will contaminate entire loads of plastic recycling if it is not disposed of in specific foam packaging drop off locations. (Kinhal, 2019).
Styrofoam not only has major health risks it is devastating to the environment. It breaks down into smaller pieces and absorbs carcinogenic pollutants in water like DDT and other pollutants because of its porous nature. Small pieces of styrofoam are ingested by marine animals, bioaccumulate, and harm people who are consuming seafood.
How to Participate in the Eco To-Go Program