A new campaign among groups in Orlando could soon have local businesses facing an unexpected economic hardship. Leaders of the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation Board are proposing a campaign in which areas in and around Orlando become “No Foam Zones,” where polystyrene foam items are essentially banned from use. Polystyrene foam, which is often mistakenly referred to by some consumers as Styrofoam® (a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company), is used to manufacture several types of single-use foodservice products. These items, such as hot beverage cups and take-away food containers, are safe, cost-effective, and provide amenities which both consumers and vendors prefer over alternative products.
The campaign, which is currently recruiting members for support, could have a devastating economic impact on small businesses that depend on the reduced costs associated with using polystyrene foam items. Angela Vervitas, owner of local establishment Nick’s Family Diner, notes that “Our voice isn’t heard in these situations. Mom-and-pop places aren’t heard [like] corporations… It will hurt us and our customers because we will have to up prices or add a surcharge for to go [orders] to cover the difference from Styrofoam to plastic.” MB Public Affairs, an independent research firm, conducted a study in 2013 proving that once a foam ban is implemented, for every $1.00 restaurants spent on polystyrene foam products, they would be required to spend at least $1.94 on alternative replacements. If this campaign includes a legislative initiative, it will bring an unnecessary financial burden to local establishments.
A simple solution to the foam debate can be found in the implementation of foam recycling programs. Even Eric Rollings, a leader of the “No Foam Zone” campaign, faults recycling officials in Orlando for not allowing foam products to be included in standard recycling bins. According to Rollings, “There are two things that you can’t put in [recycling bins] and they are plastic bags and Styrofoam and it says it right on the recycling container.” Other cities and large communities have seen great success with foam recycling programs, such as the Fort Hood Military Post in Killeen, Texas. Efforts from the Fort Hood Recycling Center generated roughly $1.4 million to put back into the community in 2013 alone. On average, the group collects more than 8,000 tons of material to process each year. If Orlando residents were provided with an opportunity to recycle foam products, they could make a positive environmental and economic impact within the community.
Source: Click Orlando