Baltimore Youth Win Fight to Get Rid of Styrofoam Lunch Trays

A student-led group called “Baltimore Beyond Plastic” is celebrating a victory: the Baltimore City Council voted to phase out styrofoam trays from school cafeterias, and begin using compostable trays instead.

Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, has been linked to cancer in multiple studies, possibly increasing the risk of leukemia and lymphoma. And when food is heated up in a styrofoam container, it can release chemicals into the food.

EPS also an environmental menace. Since it never completely decomposes, EPS that isn’t properly disposed of can litter waterways for generations. The material also has the ability to absorb other harmful chemicals, which hurts Bay life like fish and crabs even more.

 Styrofoam school trays (left) will be replaced by compostable trays.
Styrofoam school trays (left) will be replaced by compostable trays.

Baltimore Beyond Plastic testified in favor of the ban on styrofoam school trays. The group says just one Baltimore City School uses 4,000 foam trays for lunches every week.

Their ultimate goal, though, is for Baltimore City to phase out the use of EPS food containers citywide. Baltimore Beyond Plastics is encouraging individuals and businesses to sign a petition banning the foam containers. To find out more, or to sign the petition, click here.