Environmental Commission Considers Recycling Styrofoam
After two years of discussion, the Highland Park Environmental Commission wonders if banning polystyrene is the way to go.
The Environmental Commission plans to meet with industry leaders that produce polystyrene products, commonly referred to as Styrofoam, to try and create a new system for recycling and reusing these items.
"You've got to have a closed loop, otherwise it'll become part of the garbage like everything else," said city councilman Steven Mandel at Wednesday's commission meeting.
As it waits on the city council to decide whether or not to ban Styrofoam products altogether, the commission plans to hold informal meetings with major companies like Dart and Solo to explore the possibility of creating a system where these producers would work with local retailers to recycle their own products.
Much like other recycled products, Mandel would like to see local merchants set Styrofoam products aside so that their producers could pick up them up and break them down to be used again.
The commission has spent the past two years exploring the idea of banning Styrofoam from the city. After realizing many local restaurants and merchants wouldn't participate in such a ban voluntarily, the commission has begun looking into other options.
Commissioners said they were frustrated to find that many local restaurants still use Styrofoam items, despite their recommendations against doing so. Styrofoam is not biodegradable, making it harmful to the environment.
"To this day they (restaurants) have stacks of polystyrene cups," said Commissioner Eugene Friedman.
"Part of me is a little burnt out," added Commissioner Bill Bogot.
Bogot said he'd meet with local businesses again to discuss options to replace these products but is a little skeptical, especially since this issue is now nearing the third year of debate with no official action.
Other cities like Portland and Berkeley have banned Styrofoam to-go containers. A polystyrene ban may be discussed by the city council again at a meeting next month.