Rally to Stop Using Styrofoam Trays in NYC Public Schools

Obviously this post is a little late for most people to get to the rally (I just heard about it), but I wanted to give some visibility to the topic; I had no idea New York public schools were still using styrofoam trays, so perhaps some of you didn’t know either. Certainly there are more environmentally-friendly options available, and the school system is a huge market for them. Thanks to RecycleThis! NYC for the tip.

NY City Councilperson Bill De Blasio and Parents Rally to Tell NYC Department of Education (DOE) to Stop Using Styrofoam Trays in Our Public Schools

Did you know that each day, NYC public schools serve meals on Styrofoam trays?

It is estimated that 850,000 trays are used daily throughout the public schools– that’s 4,250,000 trays during one school week!

These trays are then thrown out, discarded, into our already overused landfills. These trays do not decompose. These trays, as they fall apart, prevent other trash from decomposing. These trays cannot be recycled. Additionally, studies suggest the possibility of chemical migration into the food our children eat each day.

When: Tuesday, June 26th at 1pm
Where: Steps of City Hall
Who: Public School Parents and Councilmember Bill de Blasio

Please call Jean Weinberg at 212-788-6969 or email deblasio@council.nyc.ny.us with any questions. We hope you can join us on Tuesday!

2 thoughts on “Rally to Stop Using Styrofoam Trays in NYC Public Schools”

  • One of the precepts of permaculture is to treat all by-products of a process as a “resource”, not “waste”. If our Department of Sanitation really embraced this idea, it would mark a sea change in the way they do business. Years ago, when I was a member of the Park Slope Intensive Recycling campaign, I was in a room of sanitation peeps listening to a presentation about how to reduce our waste stream. You’d have thought the presentation was being conducted in Greek judging by the looks of bewilderment on the faces of “san men”, as they called themselves.

    Cultural change is painfully slow, but rising oil prices and deteriorating air quality, as well as the increasing value scarce of materials and community revulsion at hosting landfills for NYC trash, will continue to apply pressure on the system, until even the most ingrown and dense realize that we can’t continue the current practices. Right now, my household of 4 recycles at least 50% of our resource stream, yet the city-wide rate hovers around 17%. My experience suggests simply enforcing the existing laws would easily double the recycling rate, without adding any new materials to the mix.

    What we lack is a mayor willing to bear the heat. Bloomberg got rid of smoking in restaurants and bars, raised property taxes 18%, abolished the Board of Ed and now is proposing congestion pricing and a green taxi fleet. Is it too much to ask for him to crack down on recycling cheats?

  • i went to the dept. of sanitation’s ABRI (apartment building recycling initiative) workshop last year, and it seemed like everyone there was trying to better understand the recycling rules because their building had received fines. the rules really are NOT simple – especially regarding plastic – even for people who are genuinely trying to understand them (which is probably still a fairly small percentage of the population). i think most people are either lazy or confused, not necessarily trying to cheat per se.

    my building has received a bunch of citations recently, so the enforcers are definitely making their way through this part of brooklyn. we have worked hard to improve the signs in our recycling areas and we also distributed a letter to all residents informing them of the fines the building has received and providing a simplified version of the recycling guides.

    best advice i’ve heard on how to improve recycling habits (from eve martinez of DOS): never empty the recycling bins completely, always leave a few examples of items that belong in each bin, so people have an example to follow. that seems to help a lot.

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