Greene County Legislator William B. Lawrence, R-Cairo, is calling for a countywide ban on polystyrene, the ubiquitous, near-indestructible plastic foam used in drinking cups, food trays and many, many other things. At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a statewide ban on the landfill-proof material we all commonly refer to as Styrofoam.
Polystyrene can’t be recycled and resold. It’s nearly impossible to remove from the waste stream and there’s no market for it. It’s light but bulky, and cheap to produce. It is the dominant occupant of landfills and it takes an eternity to decompose. It has nothing going for it except its seeming ability to survive a nuclear holocaust.
So good for Lawrence and Cuomo on their decisions. We don’t agree with all of Lawrence’s positions on Greene County issues or Cuomo’s ideas on what’s best for New York, but in this case, as Lawrence pointed out last week, banning Styrofoam would be good for our health and our local business community.
As trash on streets and in rivers, lakes and seas, Styrofoam is more trouble than it’s worth, according to the Green Dining Alliance. All of the polystyrene that clogs up the environment is useless. More disturbing, when Styrofoam gets into the water, it doesn’t break down and it floats forever.
Plastics are the scourge of the world’s oceans. They swirl in mammoth, wind-driven ocean currents and form plastic conglomerates unbelievably deadly to marine life. Big chunks and tiny particles contaminate the food chain and leave remote beaches looking like garbage dumps.
Styrofoam is among the leading contaminants slowly destroying our sensitive ecology. Lawrence and Cuomo have wisely decided not to add to the calamity.