Eco-savvy Massachusetts community rejects polystyrene ban

After backlash from local businesses, the Northhampton, Mass. City Council removed proposed foam ban adjudication from the voting ballot. Because replacements would cost business owners up to 500% more to produce and polystyrene is recyclable anyhow, community members believe that a recycling program would benefit the environment while preserving the local economy.

Northampton–recently named the second-highest ranking community in the US for sustainability efforts by the Journal of the American Planning Association–is setting an example to other communities in New England facing the proposed Massachusetts foam ban and similar propositions throughout the region. To protect business owners from unnecessary costs, the American economy from losing jobs and the environment from filling landfills with harmful material, governors, and officials throughout the region, such as Gov. Paul LePage (RI), support implementing a recycling program.

Polystyrene, (often called “Styrofoam,” which is really a trademark of the Dow Chemical Co.), is 95% air and 100% recyclable. Dart Container Corporation, one of the leaders in polystyrene foam production and recycling, has about a dozen recycling centers across the country and other organizations have many additional ones. Millions of pounds of polystyrene are recycled weekly, creating new post-consumer goods like DVD cases, toys, office supplies and even wood-alternative building materials. There are already five polystyrene recycling locations in Massachusetts alone, waiting to be utilized by more and more eco and wallet-friendly New Englanders.