With public opposition growing against plastics, enviro groups deliver 15,000 signatures calling for a statewide ban on polystyrene
[Bridgeport, PA] – With public opposition of single-use plastics growing rapidly, statewide environmental group PennEnvironment delivered 15,000 petition signatures to the legislature’s lead sponsor of a bill to ban the distribution and sale of polystyrene cups and food containers in the Commonwealth.
The petition signatures were delivered to state Rep. Tim Briggs (HD-149, Upper Merion, W. Conshohocken, Bridgeport, and parts of Lower Merion and West Norriton in Montgomery County, PA), the lead sponsor of House Bill 2560. House Bill 2560 currently has bipartisan support and 35 cosponsors in the state House, and would require the ban to be Commonwealth-wide.
“PennEnvironment is excited to deliver these signatures to Rep. Briggs in support of his legislation to tackle the issue of single-use polystyrene takeout food containers in Pennsylvania,” stated PennEnvironment’s Executive Director David Masur. “Nothing we use once for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our environment for centuries.”
With elected officials in Pennsylvania and across the nation grappling with ways to address the growing challenge of single-use plastics waste, the petition delivery comes on the heels of the Montgomery County borough of Narberth passing the first ban on plastic straws in Pennsylvania.
“Plastic waste in our communities is quickly becoming an epidemic,” noted lead sponsor of House Bill 2560, state Representative Tim Briggs. “Eliminating polystyrene products that cannot decompose or be recycled is a step toward a more sustainable environment”
Polystyrene -- what many people refer to as ‘Styrofoam’ -- is one of the worst forms of plastic pollution and is often used in cups and take-out food containers. Every day, Americans use and throw away more than 70 million plastic cups. And up to eight billion Styrofoam cups - excluding take-out containers and silverware – are used annually that potentially end up polluting the nation’s waterways and coastlines.
The massive accumulation of plastic is exemplified by the Philadelphia Water Department’s removal of more than 12 tons of trash from the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers in 2017 alone.
“The ever-growing presence of polystyrene and other plastics in our beloved Schuylkill River is a threat to our region’s health, our wildlife habitat and ecosystems and our whole economy,” added Elaine Paul Schaefer, Executive Director for Schuylkill River Greenways. “Over 1.5 million Philadelphia area residents get their drinking water from the Schuylkill, and the quality of its water directly affects all of us.”
Once polystyrene enters our waterways, it is easily ingested by aquatic wildlife. Scientists have found plastic fragments in literally hundreds of species, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species. Ingesting these fragments is often fatal.
“Protecting our waterways are an important mission for the Stony Creek Anglers,” stated Chas Wood President of the Montgomery County-based fish group, Stony Creek Anglers. “We applaud Representative Briggs for his continued efforts to protect our environment.”
Ample examples exist across the country about successful efforts to rein in polystyrene pollution and waste. Plastic foam bans have already passed in over 200 cities and other communities. Some companies are also getting with the program, with McDonald’s poised to phase out foam cups and containers worldwide by the end of the year, in favor of 100% recycled materials.
“As a business owner, I know it is important to do our part on issues that affect the environment and our community,” noted Darragh Moore, Managing Partner at King of Prussia’s Founding Farmers restaurant. “We’re fortunate to have elected leaders like Rep. Briggs who show the vision to help businesses win while ensuring the planet wins also.”
“From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine polystyrene bans have been implemented to help protect our health and environment,” added Masur. “It’s time for Pennsylvania to become a leader in efforts to promote wildlife over waste.”