A collection of chefs in London are leading a campaign to ban expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) food packaging in the city. However, the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) is seeking to educate the public about the benefits of foam packaging and problems with the proposed ban, while clearing up some misconceptions surrounding foam.
FPA executive director Martin Kersh said that the comments made by the chefs were “strange and misplaced,” as these chefs often rely on EPS products to keep their ingredients fresh. Kersh also believes that the chefs have failed to consider the full life cycle of EPS. Polystyrene is recyclable and non-toxic and is completely safe and hygienic. Kersh called on the chefs to shift their focus from banning EPS to addressing the poor behaviour of people who feel that it is acceptable to litter EPS products.
The truth about foam
One of the misconceptions surrounding polystyrene foam is its link to Styrofoam. Though both polystyrene foam and Styrofoam are No. 6 plastics, Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, and is mainly used for insulation; polystyrene is most often used for food packaging products.
Another misconception is that polystyrene foam can’t be recycled. That’s simply not true. Foam is recycled at facilities across the UK, including one in Billingsgate. When it is recycled, EPS can be used to make items like rulers, surfboards, garden nursery trays, and picture frames. It’s also used in architectural molding and in eco-initiatives, such as alternative energy production and “green” buildings.
Foam recycling is a much more realistic and sustainable goal than a ban on foam. Polystyrene recycling reduces solid waste, decreases our dependence on virgin resources, prevents pollution, and saves energy compared with alternatives.
A foam ban, on the other hand, would hurt schools, hospitals, and many restaurant owners across the city. The alternatives are simply too expensive—two to three times more expensive, in fact. Foam containers provide excellent insulation at a cost-effective price and save schools, businesses, consumers, and government agencies money. This leads to lower costs, creates more jobs, and fuels the local economy.
Mr. Kersh thinks that the restauranteurs should reconsider their campaign to ban foam in London. Mr. Kersh said, “We have been delighted to work with the restaurant industry to achieve food waste reductions and would be pleased to work with them and the Greater London Assembly to achieve improvements in waste management.”