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)!