to get styrene out of our schools
Raise awareness and collect signatures to show your support to the Green Team and the School Committee
Coming soon: SIGN the petition online
The Green Team is looking for an alternative to the one thousand three hundred (1,300) polystyrene trays that are used and thrown away every day in our Wayland schools. These trays are at present not recycled, but trashed and incinerated.
The issue is complex. Each school is different, with different kitchen and cafeteria procedures, infrastructure layouts, and age groups. Though the ideal is to switch every school to 100% reusables (compartmentalized trays, plates, bowls, glasses and flatware) washed in dishwashers, it will take a lot of planning and work to get us there.
One thing is certain, the environmental and human health concerns associated with the manufacturing, use and disposal of polystyrene are considerable. For instance, styrene, the feedstock in the manufacture of polystyrene, has been designated a possible or suspected human carcinogen. Organizations around the nation have begun to rally against its use, and hundreds of communities and municipalities throughout the country have banned the use of polystyrene food containers and lunch trays. You can read all about these issues in the first part of our report.
As for alternatives, here are some issues to begin with:
- Recycling poystyrene trays is costly and inconvenient, as they would all need to be wiped of food residues.
- Biodegradable trays are still very expensive.
- Paper containers are less expensive, and could be composted, but we have no way of composting them at present. Recycling them would also mean wiping them of food residues. Imagine the pasta sauce...
- dishwashers are efficient in their water and electricity consumption, but they take up space that many of our schools' kitchens do not have, and they require extra labor.
The Green Team has tried to integrate a dishwashing system in the most likely place: the new High School kitchen. On 12 May the Green Team met with the High School Building Committee (HSBC) to discuss this. The HSBC was receptive to the problems with polystyrene, but pointed out that it would be difficult to change the kitchen layout at the point. Stay tuned for more news.
On 23 May we met with the School Committee (SC) on this same issue. The SC was very appreciative of our concerns and wholeheartedly supports the move away from polystyrene, but it seems unlikely at this point that we can still change the High School kitchen to accommodate a dishwasher. Read the Patch article about this meeting
Food Services Director Cheryl Judd has also pointed out that the extra costs associated with dishwashing, especially extra labor costs, cannot be absorbed by the Food Services budget of 2011-2012.
It is clear that we must employ any or all of the alternatives to polystyrene to make a gradual but concerted move away from polystyrene toward a totally reusable system.
The Green Team is inviting everyone's input and expertise for tackling this problem.