GOP Cancels Biodegradable Packaging, Brings Styrofoam Back


Photo provided to Treehugger by an anonymous Congressional staffer

Okay, so it's not exactly earth-shattering green political news -- but it's still indicative of the new anti-environment attitude that's swept into the US House of Representatives. Four years after our nation's esteemed governing body decided to stop using one of the most destructive, ungreen materials in existence, our lawmakers have decided it's time to cancel the program that supported biodegradable packaging, and to bring Styrofoam back. Wonkette has a gloriously epic rant:

"Foamed polystyrene" is a miraculous invention that manages to be completely awful through every step of its near-eternal "life cycle" -- it is manufactured with petroleum that must be imported from Middle East dictatorships, toxic "styrene oligomers" migrate into the food it holds, it's highly flammable and produces black poisonous smoke, and most of the 25 billion polystyrene cups tossed every year will take more than half a millennium to degrade. And that's why the Republican-led House of Representatives made it an immediate priority to cancel the House cafeteria's four years of biodegradable food and beverage packaging.
Congress switched to biodegradable packaging, along with a number of other green initiatives like composting, as part of its Green the Capital program. But the program was lead by Nancy Pelosi, whom, you may have heard, is unliked in certain conservative circles. So John Boehner -- the new Speaker of the House -- and company dismantled her program, largely as a political jab.

Snark aside, the Wonkette is right on -- there's no reason the leaders of a developed nation should be using Styrofoam at all in the 21st century, much less setting such an example to their constituents by doing so in their most public eatery.

Now, plastic is one thing -- it's a nefariously indestructible, petroleum-based material as well -- but it's wormed its way into more products and is thus more difficult to extract from daily life. Which doesn't mean we shouldn't try -- just that it's in a whole 'nother ballpark than Styrofoam, which is disposable, disastrous, and entirely expendable. It is fully and wholly a Product of the Past, with, in my mind, no place in modern society. Which should tell you something about the environmental attitude of the leadership that's making a show of bringing it back.

UPDATE: An anonymous Congressional staffer sent us some photos of all the Styrofoamy carnage in the cafeteria -- check it out here.

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Tags: Congress | United States | Waste

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