Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ban on use of styro containers sought

BAGUIO CITY -- Councilors Galo Weygan and Pinky Rondez are seeking a stop to the use of polystyrene foam (PSF) or styrofoam food and drink containers in restaurants, fast-food outlets, groceries, supermarkets, stores, and other establishments in Baguio City.

In a proposed ordinance, Weygan and Rondez said styrofoam is made up of petroleum, a substance that is "non-sustainable," "heavily polluting", disappearing, and dangerous to human's health.

"According to reliable and available scientific studies, PSF contains a contaminant chemical called styrene -- the single molecule form of polystyrene that usually migrates into and beverages from polystyrene food containers. Studies also suggest that styrene mimics estrogen in the body and can therefore disrupt normal hormone functions, possibly contributing to thyroid problem, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related problems as well as breast cancer and prostate cancer," the duo said.

Apart from being a health-risk, PSF is also a non-biodegradable material and "takes up too much space in landfills or waste disposal sites and is therefore environmentally unfriendly as it is costly in environmental management."

To date, the two councilors said there is no available recycling program for this type of waste in the city. They said even McDonalds and Jollibee food firms, which used to be highly dependent on PSF, have recognized its health and environmental perils and had stopped from using the material.

They said the long-term use and constant exposure to small amounts of foreign substances found in styrofoam containers will endanger the health of the public. This should be averted, especially since the cost of maintaining health and good environment is high, they said.

According to them, a ban on the use and sale of the material could be the most effective way of preventing health and environment hazards caused by PSF.

As proposed, the prohibition will be made effective on Jan. 1, 2008 to cover retail food vendors, fast-food outlets, restaurants, groceries, supermarkets, stores, and other food service establishments. (AR of Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)

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