Connecticut hospitals should reconsider plan to ban foam

Many would be surprised to hear the amount of foam the average hospital goes through annually. But hospitals use up hundreds of thousands of disposable cups, plates, bowls, trays and more each year–and the waste adds up when it is simply thrown out. These polystyrene products (or “Styrofoam” which is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Co.) equate to about 1,194,000 at one hospital in Bridgeport, Conn., and that is just an example.

This is why many local hospitals have begun to phase out foam products in an attempt to be more environmentally sound. Luckily, most are choosing to use biodegradable products. But the ones that aren’t are doing more harm than good.

Polystyrene is mostly air, meaning it doesn’t take up much room in landfills–but it is also 100% recyclable! Especially with the high volume of foam products used by hospitals each year, an implementation of a recycling program would be far more beneficial than a Connecticut foam ban. A lot of the alternatives aren’t recyclable and take up a ton of room in landfills. Additionally, they don’t have the same insulation properties as a polystyrene product does, so people tend to double up to keep their coffee warm, for example.

Additionally, the alternatives are generally more expensive. Marc Brunetti, Bridgeport Hospital director of support operations and case management, didn’t know exactly how much the hospital’s environmentally friendly items cost but said they are generally more expensive than the foam varieties. This leaves many asking whether hospitals should really be spending extra money on cups and plates when they could be buying more crucial materials.