Polystyrene foam has been heavily used in a variety of industries to save costs and offer an easy solution to many problems. Shipping companies use bulk amounts to pad their items while shipping, while many restaurants hand out polystyrene containers for “to-go” orders.
Brookline had passed a ban on the material back in December 2013 with a waiver for some businesses lasting until May 2014. There was an outcry from local businesses that the ban would really add to their business costs, which would most likely pass onto the consumer over time.
As of late, there have been many new products that are both compostable and much cheaper than their counterparts from a few years ago. Many of them are plant-based and only cost a small percentage more than polystyrene solutions (that percentage narrows even more when buying in bulk). Many shipping vendors are turning to cardboard as their solution to not using polystyrene foam. Hopefully over more time, we will see compostable products become even cheaper as the demand continues to increase.
At this time, Boston e-Cycle does re-use some polystyrene foam to ship out items across the nation. We have also recently implemented a push to notify the final recipient to search out alternatives to disposing of the polystyrene foam (a simple message can sometimes go a long way).