Styrofoam products account for 30% of all landfills worldwide. Styrofoam is not only a hazardous air pollution, but it also endangers individuals, the environment, and animals. The worst aspect is that Styrofoam takes over 500 years to degrade, releasing toxic chemicals into the environment in the process. Given that landfills are rapidly filling up, this is a highly concerning fact. Styrene leaches into meals and beverages placed in Styrofoam containers, creating contamination. When the same container is exposed to sunlight, dangerous air pollutants are produced, contaminating landfills and depleting the ozone layer.
When Styrofoam is created, significant volumes of ozone are released into the atmosphere, causing respiratory and environmental problems. Styrofoam damages animals that forage for food in landfills. Normally, these items readily break apart into small fragments that might strangle animals. Polystyrene, which is found in Styrofoam, degrades so slowly that it is not considered a biodegradable substance. When it comes to disintegration, most of the polystyrene that ends up in landfills can take anywhere from 500 to 1 million years to breakdown, according to Styrofoam statistics.
Styrofoam has not been recycled properly in the nation.
Environmental experts have urged Nigeria’s state and federal governments to prohibit the use of Styrofoam containers, claiming that they harm the environment and human health. They made the request in a separate conversation with our correspondent in Lagos. Styrofoam is a type of expanded polystyrene that is mostly used to make food containers. They urged the country’s three levels of government to prohibit the use of Styrofoam containers because chemicals can leach into them and contaminate food, endangering human health and reproductive systems. According to Mr. Alexgreat Akhigbe, head of the African Clean-up Initiative, polystyrene is wreaking havoc on human health and polluting the environment.
He said, the main issue with this product is that no one has been able to reuse or recycle it. He went on to say that people haven’t been paying attention to Styrofoam because it doesn’t have a high recycle value. He believes that for the time being, some cement companies have been able to gather this type of trash as well as others that are not recyclable in order to use for manufacturing. Aside from these companies, they don’t have any recyclers who will accept the waste, which is why they’re littered all around, he explained. The country lacks policies in place to combat this threat. For example, if he was in government, he would talk to the individuals who make this Styrofoam and tell them they need to come up with a plan to recover the waste product off the street.
Food sellers prefer Styrofoam because it is cheaper.
Mr. Emmanuel Emechete, another environmentalist, informed our correspondent that the Styrofoam containers used by food vendors had little or no recycle value. “It will be more useful if it can be banned because it ends up wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.” It becomes scattered in the gutters, clogging them. “Yes, we know it is very inexpensive, and because of the country’s economic circumstances, people choose to use it, but it not only causes environmental problems, but it also has health repercussions for individuals.” They are toxic chemically because they contain compounds that are damaging to the body. For example, if you put a hot soup in a Styrofoam container, you will notice that some of the Styrofoam is already melting into your soup because it is incredibly light. He urged the government to limit the spread of Styrofoam in order to avoid further environmental and health risks.
Mrs. Kudirat Olawunmu, a food vendor who spoke with our correspondent, stated that customers prefer to buy their food in Styrofoam since it is cheaper. “If I obtain the other plastic plates, people will not buy them because they are pricey,” she explained. Miss. Kadijat Ibrahim, another food vendor, stated she never uses anything other than Styrofoam takeaway containers. When questioned why he favoured Styrofoam over any other takeaway dish, another food vendor, Mr. Shola Asumo, replied it was due to popular demand. “When I ask my customers which takeaway plate they want, the majority of them prefer Styrofoam because it’s cheaper.” “I also have the other takeaway dishes, but just a few people ask for them,” he explained.
A better alternative to using Styrofoam.
Scientists are hopeful that they will be able to find an acceptable alternative for Styrofoam. Restaurants and foodservice companies should make an effort to promote the usage of biodegradable containers as an environmentally friendly alternative. Make eco-friendly choices on an individual level to decrease the use of this product. Avoid single-use items to reduce your use of Styrofoam. Reusable cups, bottles, and silverware should be used. Use products that are made from renewable resources, contain biodegradable ingredients, and are easily recycled as well.