"It’s the right thing to do," says Carol Brennan, dietetic technician and Certified Dietary Manager of Nutrition and Food Services at Wayne Memorial Hospital. Brennan, her staff and supervisor John Conte, director of Facility Services, are on a mission to ban Styrofoam forever from hospital food services.
They have replaced Styrofoam soup containers with china bowls and Styrofoam take-out containers with molded fiber boxes that come in two sizes. They’re also offering re-usable "Coffee Club" mugs with special discounts and monthly incentives for users. On Earth Day 2013, the cafeteria kicked off their campaign and sold 70 mugs before 10 a.m.
Styrofoam is expanded polystyrene foam, a petroleum-based plastic made from styrene. Styrene is associated with pollution, ozone depletion and deleterious health effects. It’s officially classified as a possible carcinogen or cancer-causing substance. Toxic chemicals are believed to leach out of Styrofoam products into the food that they contain (especially when heated in a microwave).
The molded fiber boxes "cost a bit more than the Styrofoam," Brennan notes, "but we’re not passing that extra cost on to our consumers."
The staff hopes to eventually rid the cafeteria completely of all Styrofoam. They are currently looking for replacement (and recyclable) hot/cold beverage containers.