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Polystyrene Purchase Ban

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No More Polystyrene 

10 January 2008

To: The Clarkson Community
From: President Tony Collins

We are pleased to announce another milestone for Clarkson University in its commitment to our role as an environmental leader and innovator.

As of January 1, the University, including Campus Dining, the Clarkson Inn and the University Bookstore, has discontinued the purchase and use of polystyrene products -- commonly referred to as "Styrofoam." (Campus Dining completed its elimination of polystyrene from all food service use in November and is now using biodegradable alternatives for take-out containers, etc.)

In the United States, 25 billion foam cups are thrown away annually. Polystyrene, a liquid hydrocarbon, which is manufactured from petroleum, is difficult to recycle and uses much space in landfills, taking up to 500 years to disintegrate. The EPA reports that 2.6 million tons of polystyrene was discarded into landfills in 2005.

One of polystyrene's components, styrene, is a hazardous substance, suspected to be a carcinogen and neurotoxin. When warmed, polystyrene can leach toxic benzene into liquids or foods.

There is also legislation currently underway in the New York State Legislature, which could ban all polystyrene products from use in food service.

We believe that it is in the best interest of the Clarkson University community and our environment to stop further use of polystyrene on campus.

All departments and schools are asked to cease purchase of polystyrene products. Instead, we ask that you purchase biodegradable alternatives -- like paper or corn or sugar cane-based products -- when selecting coffee cups, etc. As of January 1, the University no longer approves purchases of polystyrene products.

We thank you in advance for making our campus a better place to live and for thinking about the future of our world and its environment.

Linda Lamoureux '10 recycles her paper
Linda Lamoureux '10 recycles her paper