Hartford-As restaurants and retailers struggle to keep their doors open during the pandemic, foam containers have become the lifeblood of many restaurants with the surge in takeaway orders.
But Connecticut environmentalists say that containers are the main source of pollution and should be banned before 2023 because these products will not decompose naturally, pollute the ocean and take up too much space in landfills.
The two sides clashed on a controversial bill from the Environmental Committee on Wednesday, which will also ban the use of foam trays in school cafeterias from July 2023 and instruct restaurant owners to avoid distributing plastic straws unless specifically requested by customers. As officials debate the future of Connecticut’s environment, these issues have become more prominent, as Hartford’s waste-to-energy plant is expected to close in the summer of 2022, forcing waste to be sent to Ohio and Ohio at higher prices. Out-of-state landfills in Pennsylvania and other places. cost.
Timothy Phelan, the longtime chairman of the Connecticut Retail Association, said retailers support more recycling, but asked lawmakers to abandon the proposal altogether because some retailers are still struggling to keep their doors open.
“As the saying goes, timing is everything. And this proposal is the wrong solution at the wrong time,” Ferran said in his testimony to the committee. “Some of the containers prohibited in this legislation have become an essential element of the business response to customer curbside pickup during the pandemic. It is important to thoroughly evaluate alternatives before suddenly moving in this direction, so make sure they are right End users—our customers, Connecticut consumers—are equally effective.”
Ferran warned that taking quick action in the legislature could be counterproductive because many companies have been under pressure in the past year.
He said: “The country should also be aware that we will not end up in a situation where some people compare it to one step forward and two steps backward.” “This may be especially true when it comes to rubbish. In order to limit rubbish-of course it is. A commendable goal-changing products and priorities can be counterproductive, leading to more waste, not less. By switching to products that look more environmentally friendly, there may be greater, not lesser, environmental impacts. ”
In addition to phasing out certain food containers, this multi-pronged bill will also “prohibit the deliberate release of certain helium balloons and check the compostability of certain disposable product bags.”
School officials believe that when many school cafeterias lose money because children stay home and engage in online learning during the pandemic, forcing school districts to remove foam trays and let them buy higher-priced alternatives will be a financially difficult task. . Overall, in a recent survey, 85% of Connecticut school cafeteria operators said they expect losses this year.
The Connecticut Association of Education Commissions stated in a written testimony on the bill: “The additional cost of using paper on Styrofoam is a larger cost for a region, up to three times the cost.” “Some The district has stopped using heavy plastic pallets because the machine that cleans them is broken and expensive to repair. The cost of enforcing this change will affect the cost of meals and will affect families struggling to repay school lunch debts. At this time, The school district is bravely providing meals to students in need. This is the top priority.”
Erica Biagetti, director of food services at Guildford Public Schools and chairman of the Connecticut School Nutrition Association, also warned lawmakers about the cost of such changes.
She said that a non-partisan legislative analysis showed that the elimination of Styrofoam trays could cost the school up to $2.7 million in additional costs.
“In view of the sharp increase in supply prices and supply chain issues in the past year, this cost estimate may greatly underestimate the cost in various regions,” Biageti said. “For example, plastic gloves have increased from US$15 per box to more than US$100 per box, and continue to rise due to supply problems that we expect to continue in the next few years. The cost of paper milk straws is 10 times that of plastic milk straws, and Due to production problems, the supply of paper straws is limited. Alternatives to Styrofoam include paper or fiber pallets. The cost of these pallets may be three to five times the cost of traditional foam pallets……. If they budget a lot A large portion is used for paper/fiber trays, which may hinder the school district from providing students with a variety of healthy and fresh breakfast/lunch options, including fresh local fruits and vegetables.”
Corinne Bolding, chairman of the ConnPIRG Zero Waste Movement, stated in written testimony that Connecticut must act boldly to deal with ongoing daily waste.
“In America, we have a’stuff’ problem,” Bolding said. “Our economy encourages us to manufacture, use and discard as quickly as possible, which results in the use and disposal of approximately 300 million plastic food bags, 70 million styrofoam cups and 5 billion plastic straws every day. One part of plastic waste ends up in rivers, lakes and oceans, while most of the rest stays in landfills for hundreds of years. One of the worst forms of plastic is polystyrene or polystyrene foam. It is Toxic, easily decomposed, and will never disappear. Anything we use for a few minutes should not pollute our environment for hundreds of years.”
Luis Rosado Burch, director of the Connecticut Citizens’ Environmental Campaign with more than 120,000 members in Connecticut and New York, said his group not only supports the ban, but also wants to speed it up faster than the bill allows, because there are alternative plan. He said that the country set a goal of diverting 60% of municipal solid waste by 2024 in 2016, but the current recycling rate is still only about 30%. He said the towns and cities of Norwalk, Stamford, Westport and Groton have banned the use of containers, and other parts of the state can do the same.
In contrast, the American Chemistry Council believes that styrofoam containers are not easy to replace.
“This legislation falsely assumes that alternatives to foam food service containers are more environmentally friendly and can be recycled or composted,” the committee said. “The proposal also harms restaurants that use PS foam to provide roadside and takeaway services, which are the lifeblood of restaurants during the COVID pandemic.”
Post time: Sep-02-2021