Why Styrofoam Out of Schools

3 BILLION Trays thrown away over the past 20 years!

NYC public schools have been throwing out 850,000 polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays per day (except for Tuesdays, as of March 2010), totaling 153,000,000 trays per school year, for over 18 years. This adds up to approximately 3 billion polystyrene trays since the early 1990’s when NYC schools first started using Styrofoam trays.

NYC public school students eat as many as 3 hot meals per day directly off of Styrofoam, a petroleum-based product composed of the chemicals, benzene and styrene. Polystyrene can cause cancer and is not biodegradable. It crowds our landfills and is a major source of ocean pollution.  Low income children  are disproportionately impacted.

Styrofoam Out of Schools (SOS) is working collaboratively within the New York City (NYC) public school community to reduce cafeteria waste by first eliminating and then finding alternative solutions to Styrofoam trays. Our common ground, alliance-building approach, launched in spring 2009, resulted in the citywide implementation of TRAYLESS TUESDAYS which reduced polystyrene tray use by 2.4 million per month in NYC public schools as of March, 2010 (DoE press release)!

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About Debby Lee Cohen, SOS

Styrofoam Out of Schools/ Cafeteria Culture (SOS/CaCu) is working to achieve “zero waste” cafeterias in NYC’s public schools by first eliminating the use of Styrofoam (polystyrene) lunch trays. We advocate a Reduce Policy on all single use disposables and promote reuse, reduction and recycling. We accomplish this urgently needed work via alternative messaging, interdisciplinary education, collaboration, and innovative community and design-based advocacy.
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