What makes styrofoam good — like its insulating, shock-absorbing qualities that make it suitable for hot coffee cups, coolers, helmets and packing material — is also what makes it bad … for the environment, that is. This month’s Backgrounder looks at the technical and environmental aspects of this long-troubling plastic pollution source.
The first state ban on styrofoam food containers makes this a good time to see how things stand with styrofoam in your area, as the controversial plastic draws negative attention for overflowing landfills, causing litter and polluting waters. More, plus story ideas and reporting resources, in this week’s TipSheet.
"There’s good news for the Chesapeake Bay this year. Underwater grasses are at the highest level on record — an important sign of water quality. Blue crabs are being harvested at a sustainable level — meaning there are enough to feed hungry Marylanders while still leaving plenty in the water to reproduce. More than a million acres of land in the Chesapeake watershed have been permanently protected from development since 2010 — preventing the polluted runoff associated with building houses, roads and shopping centers."
"New York State lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales, changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers as legislators seek to curb an unsightly and omnipresent source of litter."
"The European parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part of a sweeping law against plastic waste that despoils beaches and pollutes oceans.
The vote by MEPs paves the way for a ban on single-use plastics to come into force by 2021 in all EU member states. The UK would have to follow the rules if it took part in and extended the Brexit transition period because of delays in finding a new arrangement with the EU.
"Flooding in the Midwest temporarily cut off a Superfund site in Nebraska that stores radioactive waste and explosives, inundated another one storing toxic chemical waste in Missouri, and limited access to others, federal regulators said Wednesday. The Environmental Protection Agency reported no releases of hazardous contaminants at any of eight toxic waste sites in flooded parts of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa."
With flood-ravaged Midwestern states in the news, it’s time to ask whether your own community is ready for the “big one.” This week’s TipSheet offers a 10-point Resiliency Checklist to focus your reporting. Track the vulnerability of infrastructure like drinking water and sewage plants, roads, bridges and levees, the adequacy of flood insurance and much more.
"Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent cities and towns from imposing a fee on single-use plastic and paper bags, a measure that officials in one Oklahoma community say encroaches on their search for an innovative way to protect the environment from the problems of carelessly discarded bags."
"For Maine dairy farmer Fred Stone, the discovery in 2016 that his cows were producing tainted milk has since brought financial ruin and threatened to shut down a century-old family business. Now state regulators and health experts are investigating whether the contamination could reflect a much broader problem for farms that used similar methods to fertilize their land."
"Maryland could soon be the first state to completely ban polystyrene food containers."