A Further Perspective: Polystyrene Bans Are Indefensible

August 02, 2018

While the conservative commenteriat has worked itself into a frenzy over the recent spate of proposed plastic straw bans, few pundits have taken notice of bans on something that’s far less cherished, yet far more useful: polystyrene. Notably, beginning on January 1, New York City will begin its ban on the material and many other liberal cities are following suit.

The history of polystyrene, which is usually encountered in the form of Styrofoam, began in 1839, when a German apothecary, Eduard Simon, found that an oily substance he had distilled from the resin of the American sweetgum tree became jelly-like after sitting for a few days. It took another century, however, for anyone to realize that the stuff might be industrially useful, when I.G. Farben started experimenting with it in the hope that it could become a cheaper alternative to die-cast zinc. Later, Dow Chemical developed the Styrofoam process and in 1960, the Dart Container Company started shipping out cheap and disposable foam cups to the American public.

For nearly three decades, there passed a period of fruitful growth for polystyrene products. Manufacturers molded the material to fit the varied needs of American industry; polystyrene-packing peanuts, coolers, cutlery, and takeout containers became the ubiquitous trappings of the American way of life. But, as it says in Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season,” and toward the end of the 20th century, the frost began to settle.


Full article: https://spectator.org/polystyrene-bans-are-indefensible/