Of Coffee and chips in disposable packages
If you were having coffee with me, we would be having takeaway. Coffee and Chips.
I bet you have never paid much attention to the packaging or had much of a reason to, maybe you have noticed it discarded or how it spills out of bins and is blown about easily blown away by the wind……..
If you were having coffee with me, I would tell you that this is the last time we might be enjoying a snack in this type of packaging (Expanded Polystyrene EPS) because our government has with immediate effect ( The Herald 13 July) banned it.
Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) or Kaylite as it known our streets or Styrofoam (as it is referred to as in some countries although strictly speaking Styrofoam is the Trademark name for a company which makes Extruded PolyStyrene foam (XPS) ) has many uses as packaging material in not only takeaways but even supermarkets and I have seen it packing electronic components and appliances.
If you were having coffee with me, I would tell why EPS is bad. Being an eye sore is the least of its problems to the environment but littering is still a big one, it is non-biodegradable, so it doesnt go anywhere for a long time even though it was only of use to you for just a moment over lunch, some animals will eat it, which cant be good and if it ends up in rivers, well so long fish and marine ecosystem. Recycling EPS is costly and burning seems easy enough, but you would have to incinerate it temperatures of upto 1000 degrees Celsius and with lots of oxygen otherwise you get lots of carbon soot and gases…. Global warming and climate change are real.
And if you thought simply managing the disposal and recycling was a nightmare ever wondered about the chemical processes to manufacture this stuff… A number of chemical by-products are released and although they claim to no longer use CFCs (those basically mean bye bye Ozone layer) it’s not entirely true for manufacturing of all polystyrene products.
Oh and by the way Styrene (the monomer from which PolyStyrene comes) is a Cancer Suspect Agent and studies show it may alter thyroid hormone levels and a host of other side effects none of them good, ranging from depression, fatigue to abnormal pulmonary function.
A study by the University of Zimbabwe’s Food And Nutrition Department shows that under certain conditions Styrene can leach into the food packed within…….
And before you start to panic; between 1999 and 2002 a panel from Harvard Center for Risk Analysis conducted a review on the potential impact of exposure to Styrene. Styrene naturally occurs in some foods (although in small quantities) and if we are exposed to trace amounts our bodies rapidly metabolize and excrete it. The study concluded that the amounts of styrene that can migrate from packing materials and into food are not in quantities that should alarm us….. but still try to keep away from microwaving food in disposable plastics polmers
For these and other crimes against the environment, through implementation of Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012 the government has banned use of EPS.
If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that much as I understand why this has happened I would have preferred to know it before the fact. One cant just wake up to the news that something has been banned and not know why. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) really needs to work on its awareness campaigns, and then you cant just go around banning stuff without putting in place an alternative because no one will stop or it just makes the black market thrive…..
I researched on Polystyrene packaging because my mother asked me why they had banned use of kaylites (EPS). Without an awareness campaign you suddenly find an angry man on the street saying “it’s another government tactic to make life hard” because this was a cheap form of packaging and now we will have to change to more expensive alternatives and one can predict a rise in food prices….
If you were having coffee with me, I would tell you that I never liked coffee served in styrofoam cups, it tastes so temporary…..
If you were having coffee with me; I would ask you how you like your chips?
I would tell you that there are only two types of people in the world:
Which one are you?
PS I prefer my chips drowning in tomato sauce thank you very much.
Image Credit: EMA