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Should Somerville Ban Styrofoam?

Brookline did it. Cambridge is thinking about it. Should Somerville join the trend?

Earlier this month Brookline, despite objections from Dunkin Donuts, voted to ban styrofoam food containers, including cups, from restaurants in town.

A week later, city councilors in Cambridge voted to draft a municipal code that, if enacted, would do the same thing.

This begs the question: Should Somerville follow suit?

Would you support a styrofoam food-container ban in Somerville? Or do you think such a ban goes too far?

Chris Orchard (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 04:12 PM
So here's one thing I don't get: A Dunkin Donuts representative told Brookline Town Meeting folks the company couldn't find a better alternative to styrofoam cups and that they'd certainly use an alternative if they had a good one. When I go to Starbucks I get a cardboard cup, regardless of the size. Same thing at Magnificent Muffin in Teele Square. So what's the deal? I guess styrofoam keeps the coffee hot for longer periods of time, perhaps? Anyone know anything about that?
Matt C November 28, 2012 at 04:51 PM
possibly you can't make a 64oz hot beverage cup...
AHM November 28, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Is the styrofoam not recyclable? And, banning things I think should be more state than a city thing. I don't buy this stuff(meaning coffee) but I would think if I go to Medford and buy a coffee can I not dump the cup in Somerville? It's just too crazy to do this in just certain cities. Either do the whole state or don't bother.
Jason November 28, 2012 at 05:27 PM
How about you simply are forced to by a reusable cup....or is that a individual mandate.. Lord knows I spend 20-30 bucks a year on them and then leave them someplace and have to buy a new one...even so, the coffee I pour from home does not stay hot for very long..
Jason November 28, 2012 at 05:29 PM
My recycling tote, issued by Somerville, does not accept styrofoam. Go figure.
Dylan T. November 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Tim Hortons (the Canadian equivalent of DD) has been selling large hot coffee in recyclable paper cups for years now. My hazy memory from when I was a kid is that all the large fast-food chains in Canada switched over sometime in the 90s. Since McDonalds and their like all use foam-free packaging in Canada, there's no reason why they can't use it here as well. I'd love to see this ban go through in Somerville!
Matt C November 28, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Interesting thing is that paper is not necessarily better: http://www.eps-recycling.net/does-styrofoam-cups-more-eco-friendly-than-paper-cups/
DBOVille November 28, 2012 at 06:43 PM
No. This isn't Brookline. If you want to live in Brookline, move to Brookline. Same goes for all the horse shit traffic changes they want in Davis Sq. People come here to live and to enjoy the shops and restaurants because it is not like doing the Paris–Dakar of going through Brookline and historically people in Somerville don't care to be told what to do aside from the occasional GFY. People can vote withtheir wallets.
Maureen B November 28, 2012 at 08:49 PM
We should definitely ban styrofoam take-out cups and containers- they can't be easily recycled in Somerville. Dunkin Donuts has no trouble serving small coffee in a paper cup and no other coffee shop in town serves styrofoam cups. I pick up DD styro cups everyday on my walk to work up Somerville Ave- it's disgraceful. Many businesses have switched to styrofoam take out because it's cheaper- but try to carry a styrofoam container of food without some of it spilling out. They could save the extra money to supply a sustainable option by making portions smaller so there aren't as many leftovers going out the door. We worked to get McDonalds to ban styro over 20 years ago- we've always known it's bad news and now is the time to stop using it for food service all together.
Melissa L November 28, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I agree with Maureen. If you have ever done a river clean up, you will see that styrofoam is polluting our city and water ways. I created a petition with a lot of signatures from people who want Dunkin to stop using styrofoam. I sent this to Dunkin and they gave me the same answer as they gave Brookline, that they can't find an alternative to styrofoam. That was 2 years ago and apparently they haven't made any progress. Why can all other coffee shops find alternatives but Dunkin can't?! If McDonalds can ban styrofoam, surely Dunkin can too! We need to ban this horrible material from all businesses in Somerville and beyond!
AHM November 28, 2012 at 09:35 PM
It can be recycled by a company called Dart Container Corp. But that's beside the point. I see it's banned in CA. I think state is the best way to go, not just Somerville. As for the river cleanup and everywhere else, I could never understand the need to dispose of litter anywhere. I don't understand not taking pride in keeping things clean. Regardless of foam or otherwise. I think it is disgusting. I fear for my wife's safety as she will go right up to people. Not a good idea with all the nuts running loose.
Christian R November 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I agree with Maureen and Melissa. We should definitely ban styrofoam.
Matt C November 28, 2012 at 09:59 PM
First the info about recycling is great info to consider when somerville renegotiates its recycling contract. I am 100% in agreement with you about not throwing stuff out on the ground. As for doing it at a state level or local... I agree it should be a state level thing. It would be far more difficult for a company like Dunks to accommodate the 6 or 8 shops they have in somerville vs the 100's they have in the state. they should also be given adequate time to negotiate with suppliers and change over.
Jason November 29, 2012 at 02:29 AM
And how about all that super yummy take out from Lemon Thai, Redbones, Spikes! Etc what do we force those businesses to transition too? Bento boxes? Consider the The hub bike concept.....hub bento.?!
Matt C November 29, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I think this could be solved far more easily at a local level by changing our recycling contract as a city to one that allows recycling of styrofoam and as the state / country move away from styrofoam business can comply. Make one company change in return for a massive contract vs make 100's of companies change for no direct return.
Barbara Sherman December 27, 2012 at 01:31 AM
ReFoamIt offers opportunities to municipalities, individuals, and businesses to recycle EPS Foam or Styrofoam™. We offer drop off events and collection services throughout Massachusetts. Please help us keep Styrofoam products out of the incinerators and landfills. To see our upcoming events visit www.refoamit.com.
John Doherty January 29, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Paper cups are actually plastic coated paper cups---as they must be to be liquid-proof. These paper cups are not recycled in almost all cases. You should know that science (entire Life Cycle analysis by FRANKLIN) proves that in fact the the foam cup is a more environmentally advancing choice. This measure is nothing more than an expensive "send them a message" item that does nothing to help never-mind solve a problem. It more complex (municipal waste/recycling advancement) then this ban would purport to do.
Barbara Sherman February 28, 2013 at 03:01 PM
AHM, Sorry, that I did not see this post earlier. I own a MA based company called ReFoamIt. We recycle foam more commonly known as Styrofoam(TM) We accept foam at 1 Sculley Rd., Ayer MA 01432 for no charge. We are open from 8-5 M-F and 8-2 Saturdays. We offer programs to businesses and municipalities. Check out our web site at www.refoamit.com
Chris Orchard (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 03:21 PM
I deleted a comment because it was spam.
Maria February 28, 2013 at 04:52 PM
A nice way to drive business from the city, and take away a few more of our individual rights/choices. Also, the school department probably uses more styrofoam than Dunkin' Donuts. Clean up your own house before you come after mine.

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