Help ban expanded polystyrene in Durban

The public is urged to sign a petition to have polystyrene banned in Durban.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) pollution is out of control in Durban and causing untold damage to the environment, public health and tourism revenues, says Steve Cohen from Durbanites Against Plastic Pollution, Berea Mail reports.

Take a walk along one of Durban’s beaches on any day and you will notice an endless line of tiny fragments of EPS along the high tide mark.

It becomes more noticeable when summer rains flush storm-water drains and roads and deposit a white carpet of polystyrene along beaches.

Cohen said this is just the tip of the ice-berg, as millions of pieces lie buried beneath the beach sand, in rivers and estuaries or are drifting out at sea.

Cohen said problematic products made from EPS include fast food containers, disposable cups and packaging trays that hold meat, fruit and vegetables.

“Many Durbanites are unaware of the impact of EPS and enjoy the material because it is cheap, light, insulating and disposable. However, it has a dark side. Because it is so light, easily fragments, and is most often used outdoors, it gets into the environment easily and is one of most mismanaged items of waste in the city, and indeed globally,” he said.

EPS is almost impossible to clean up once in the environment.

“Ask the army of municipal beach cleaners and folk at #cleanbluelagoon who battle this scourge on an ongoing basis. Once in the environment, the cups, trays and burger clam shells quickly break up into tiny pieces which attract other toxins and are mistaken for food by birds, fish and other marine life. Scientific studies show that micro-plastic are being ingested by marine life in Durban’s coastal waters,” he said.

Although EPS can technically be recycled, the technology is of no use if the litter is evading collection systems.

The economics of EPS recycling in South Africa is also on shaky ground.

EPS is also a threat to human health. Polystyrene products are made from styrene, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin that can leach into hot, greasy food.

EPS can be dangerous because it emits toxic chemicals when the containers are burned, and rubbish is routinely burned in informal settlements and outer areas of eThekwini.

“The good news is that we don’t need EPS in our lives. Re-usable cups and containers are light and affordable for everyone and just require the self-discipline to carry these. There are also several other footwear materials that vendors can use that are less harmful on the environment, including recycled cardboard and paper pulp, other safer and more manageable plastic polymers and home-compostable containers made from renewable biomass such as sugar cane. The cost to Durbanites caused by the impacts from EPS far outweighs the supposed benefits of its momentary additional convenience. We need you to change the status quo in Durban!” he said.

Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/ethekwini-city-council-help-us-ban-polystyrene-in-durban

Visit the Durbanites Against Plastic Pollution website: https://dpapp.org.

Read original story on bereamail.co.za

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