It may not rank as one of the city’s most pressing issues, but Schenectady and virtually every other city in the United States has a problem with Styrofoam — the plastic foam packaging used for take-out food containers and coffee cups. They just don’t want to admit it.
The problem, as City Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard spelled out in a Gazette story Saturday, is that the stuff is indestructible. It sits wherever it’s thrown, whether into a landfill or along the roadside — forever (for all practical purposes, anyway).
Even though Schenectady no longer operates a landfill, it has to be careful about the places it sends its garbage; when they fill up, the price for alternatives is likely to be higher. Ditto the cost of carting the stuff there.
So Blanchard is to be congratulated for raising the politically sticky issue of a Styrofoam ban. There are other, more environmentally benign ways to keep takeout food and beverages warm. (And what’s the point of using Styrofoam “clamshell” boxes for leftovers, since they can’t be put in the microwave?)
Styrofoam alternatives may cost more, but if the end result is a cleaner planet, isn’t it worth it?
A good many fast-food chains abandoned Styrofoam years ago; so, for its coffee cups, did Starbucks. Meanwhile, several communities across the United States — mostly progressive ones in California and Oregon, but some in the East as well — have banned the material. Schenectady, and others in the region, should, too.