New Jersey Democrats Look To Boot Styrofoam From Public Schools

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Styrofoam food containers could soon be a thing of the past in New Jersey.

Most New Jersey school students are no strangers to Styrofoam — nearly everything served for school lunch sits on or in it.

North Bergen superintendent of schools Dr. George Solter Jr. told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock that his district feeds more than 7,000 students every day.

The only thing that gets re-used are the trays, everything else gets thrown in the trash.

“It’s the most cost effective as we look at tight budgets, and 2 percent cap, we’re always looking for the most cost effective way of doing things,” he said.

The district’s way of doing things might have to change if a bill sponsored by assembly democrats get passed.

The bill prohibits the sale of expanded styrene food containers by ‘public schools and public institutions of higher education.

Debbie Mans, the executive director of New York/New Jersey Bay Keepers said research shows steps have to be taken to curb the use of these to-go containers.

“We found that at any given time there’s a $165-million in plastic floating in estuaries and 38 percent of it is Styrofoam pieces,” she said.

Secaucus Environmental Director, Amanda Nesheiwat said Secaucus imposed a ban in 2011.

“It’s ending up in our rivers and forests — whenever we do cleanups we find cups and food containers,” she said.

The ban applied to both restaurants and schools. The schools stepped right into action.

“They don’t have Styrofoam in the school system,” she said.

Mayor Michael Gonnelli said they now use corrugated paper products instead.

“A little more expensive,” he explained.

He estimates the corrugated paper costs 25 percent more than the Styrofoam.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton — a sponsor of the legislation — told CBS2 that the bill encourages schools to seek more environmentally friendly alternatives.

There’s nothing in the proposed bill to help districts pay for the change from Styrofoam to something more environmentally friendly.

“If it’s the law we have to,” Solter said.

And Styrofoam will be sent packing from New Jersey schools.

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