I have been learning something new about the environment everyday. Just the other day, I found out that our local waste agency does not list styrofoam as an acceptable recycling product. In fact, they can handle just about any other recyclable material including most plastics, most forms of glass, and cardbaord.
However, stryofoam proves to be difficult to handle because it is neither biodegradable nor is it compostable. It also releases chemical byproducts into the environment and can contaminate our food with toxic chemicals (although there are contrasting reports as to whether or not thestyrene in styrofoam is a carcinogen). When dumped as litter, styrofoam can also kill animals if it is ingested by them.
Most manufacturers and retailers prefer styrofoam because it is relatively cheap and convenient for use. However, legislators in California have recognized the threat of styrofoam and have successfully managed to ban its use in over 50 cities and counties across the state. A bill is currently being proposed that would issue a statewide ban beginning in 2016. People have complained that such action could result in reduced profit margins for businesses as well as hundreds of jobs being cut by closing down styrofoam manufacturing plants.
Cities in California have been able to make the smooth transition to styrofoam-free businesses and have been able to find suitable biodegradable and compostable substitutes for food containers. Let's hope that more states and even maybe countires decide to take on this kind of initiative!