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More Than 1,300 Sign Petition To Replace Penn State’s Styrofoam Containers

Nearly 1,400 people have signed a Change.org petition asking Penn State to remove the styrofoam containers that returned to the dining halls this fall.

“[Styrofoam containers] are very bad for our environment,” organizer and Penn State student Lindsey McMackin said. “Studies have shown that styrofoam stays in a landfill for up to 500 years after it is thrown out and some landfills have 30% of their space used by styrofoam.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State’s dining halls have adapted to utilize non-reusable, single-use styrofoam instead of washable trays and containers to comply with public health guidelines. The university said reusable containers would put students and employees at risk due to high contact.

Each meal comes with a plastic bag, a styrofoam box, and utensils wrapped in plastic. Additionally, dining halls are serving students drinks using plastic bottles instead of soda fountains.

McMackin suggested Penn State return to using sustainable takeout containers to address the harmful styrofoam.

“Instead of continuing to use these harmful containers, the university should start using containers that are compostable and/or biodegradable,” McMackin said. “Containers made from plant fibers such as sugarcane are perfect replacements. These containers are suitable for hot and cold food, and they are also microwaveable.”

This semester, Penn State retired its Green2Go program, which allowed students to get their meals in reusable containers, after seven years. The university said the program helped it see a 30% decrease in polystyrene usage over that time.

Penn State said a new program is in the works and will eventually be implemented.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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