“I am thrilled to announce that Monday night, the City of Revere joined 53 cities and towns across 12 counties representing over one million people to ban Polystyrene, plastic made from petrochemicals, in food packaging.” Said Giannino, “I want to thank the City Council and my cosponsor of this ordinance, Councilor Joanne McKenna.” Polystyrene is commonly used in food packaging, where it comes in two forms, rigid and foam. Polystyrene is based on styrene, a neurotoxin and probable carcinogen based on benzene. Styrene leaching increases with temperature and with certain foods. Other risks include synthetic chemical additives such as colorants.
Polystyrene also poses a significant environmental hazard. The foam form is often mistaken as food by both domesticated and wild animals. Birds may also use foam for nesting material. Untold numbers of animals die per year by ingesting polystyrene and other plastic items. It does not biodegrade; it just fractures into smaller and smaller bits called “microplastics.” These small particles present the greatest long-term danger, as they contaminate drinking water as well as displace food supplies in the world’s oceans. As a coastal community this is incredibly concerning and part of the reason why this was so important to the City of Revere. Once microplastics enter our oceans, they will stay there virtually forever, because they persist, and their removal is not possible.
The bulky foam form is not accepted in curbside recycling programs in Massachusetts (and most other states). The reason for this is because foam is 95% air and often contaminated with food residue; recycling is impractical. “It is for all these reasons and more that I am so proud this ordinance is now in place in Revere.” Said Giannino, “This is the last major ordinance I will have presented and passed as a City Councilor and another accomplishment in a series of environmental motions Councilor McKenna, and I have worked on together.”