Congressman Peter Welch recently offered an amendment to a legislative appropriations bill which seemed like a no-brainer: to ban the House cafeterias and buildings from using Styrofoam.
Believe it or not, when the House leadership changed hands, so did the food containers and utensils…to Styrofoam. I remember stopping by the cafeteria just a year ago and being so impressed by the compostable and recyclable food containers and utensils, a program then Speaker Pelosi started. And now they’re back to Styrofoam. These cafeterias not only serve Congressmen and women, they also serve their staff and visitors.
“Congress should be leading the way in making environmentally sound business decisions,” Welch said in a statement. “The decision to replace environmentally-friendly utensils with Styrofoam is a major step backwards. Using Styrofoam is outdated, environmentally harmful and hazardous to people’s health. McDonald's saw the light 20 years ago and stopped using Styrofoam.”
Welch’s office explains the harmful effects of Styrofoam are well documented: cancer-causing chemicals are used during its manufacture, it is difficult to recycle and most Styrofoam containers end up in landfills or incinerators where toxic byproducts are released. A 1986 EPA report on solid waste identified the Styrofoam manufacturing process as the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste. Additionally, toxic chemicals can leak from Styrofoam containers into the food and beverages they hold.
We give Congressman Welch and his staff props for standing up on this issue! Unfortunately, the House voted 179 to 234 against Welch’s amendment.
Watch Welch encourage his colleagues to be leaders in resource stewardship: