The Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii had a general membership meeting which was a huge success. We gathered and approved many legislative priorities in each of our three subcommittees. One of the approved priorities included support of the effort to ban expanded polystyrene (EPS)-“styrofoam”.
A polystyrene bill, SB 1109 -ban of EPS foam in food establishments is scheduled to be heard this Wednesday, February 8 at 1:15pm.
Please show up at the hearing to show your support/testimony or submit testimony online (www.capitol.hawaii.gov).
Plastic Free Hawaii program manager, Doorae Shin has asked us to share the sample testimony below.
Please use the below format to submit testimony. If you dont have any time, just fill out the basic info and click “Support” and submit without text. If you do have time, copy/paste any or all of the talking points below, or write something from the heart. Use the heading below to start your testimony.
Hearing Date: Wednesday February 8th, 2017
Hearing Time: 1:15 PM
Place: Conference Room 224
Committee: Agriculture & Environment/Public Safety Intergovernmental, & Military Affairs
Aloha Chairs Gabbard & Nishihara, Members of the joint committee on AE & PSM,
My name is _______________ and I am a resident of _______________. I am writing in full support of SB1109 to prohibit the use of polystyrene foam containers by food vendors.
[INSERT YOUR PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS, OPINIONS, & STORIES ON FOAM HERE AND THEN CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE TALKING POINTS BELOW TO INCLUDE]
Cleanup Costs & Economic Benefits
Plastic is costing cities, counties, states, & countries millions of dollars and our global economy billions. Costs are passed to the taxpayers by burdening our storm water management systems with the need for expensive best management practices and the costs of cleanups.
Hawaii State Department of Transportation has produced a trash plan that shows styrofoam and plastic bags as the top two contributors to the waste stream.
The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) created a plastic cleanup valuation study for 90+ counties in California:
CA taxpayers are paying $428 million per year to clean up plastic through storm drain management, street sweeping, and cleanups.
San Diego County (with population of 1.3 equivalent to Hawaii) spends $14 million alone on plastic cleanup
United Nations Environmental Program Global Estimates are in the billions for the global cost to cleanup plastics, $14 billion for marine plastic alone.
This cost is closer to $78 billion annually if all costs are considered, including the cost lost in fossil fuel production and loss of resources.
Burden on the public
According to cleanup hours recorded across Hawaii’s beach cleaning organizations and volunteer hour base rates, we spent $750,000 – $1 million on beach cleanups in 2016 alone
It is argued that styrofoam is acceptable because we can incinerate it for energy. However, this approach is not without significant impacts. According to the Hawaii DOH Clean Air Branch the Covanta H-POWER plant emits 0.15 million metrics tons of carbon dioxide (a potent greenhouse gas) annually. Although touted as a “clean energy solution” for Hawaii, H-POWER only generates about 3% of Oahu’s energy needs while still emitting greenhouse gases through burning plastic.
Further, for each ton of polystyrene not produced, 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are avoided. This directly supports Hawaii’s greenhouse gas reduction goals as stated in the Aloha + Challenge and as mandated by the US EPA.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) report shows that burning polystyrene emits more carbon dioxide equivalent than other plastics. For each ton of polystyrene incinerated, 1.64 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are emitted.
If burned at HPower, one compostable clamshell burns 1.76 times greater energy compared to one EPS Foam clamshell of the same size. And burning compostable products come without the toxic ash or smoke that EPS foam creates in the burning process.
Fiber clamshells are also less than half the volume of EPS, so a restaurant could fit about twice as many clamshells on the same amount of shelf space or have more space for other things.
The material for fiber containers can be grown and then made here in Hawaii, so more jobs and sustainable ones, not jobs that are exposing workers directly to large amounts of toxic chemicals. EPS can also be made here, but raw, toxic source chemicals need to be shipped to Hawaii.
EPS is designed to be used it once, and according to the US EPA less than 1% of foam is recycled nationally. 0% of EPS Foam is recycled locally.
EPS Foam is composed of over 90% air, so even when properly disposed of, foam products easily fly out of trash bins and dumpsters, and they enter into the natural environment, eventually polluting our ocean and negatively impacting ocean health and threatening marine wildlife.
EPS Foam also breaks apart more easily and quicker than other plastics, making it more difficult to clean up than other plastics and easier for animals to mistake as food and ingest
According to the EPA Waste Reduction Model Report, 7% of plastic waste generation in US is polystyrene. Of our total plastic recovery, polystyrene makes up 0.7% of recycled plastic
Styrene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen and a confirmed animal carcinogen as reported by the National Institute of Health in their Report on Carcinogens (2011); this conclusion is also endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences (2014)
When combusted, styrene produces benzaldehyde (US EPA classifies this as a hazardous substance), acetophenone (Group D carcinogen by US EPA, causes chromosomal damage on hamsters, but hasn’t been tested in humans), styrene oxide (main metabolite of styrene, which is known carcinogenic, and considered possibly carcinogenic).