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Costa Rica Has Banned Styrofoam — A Major Win for the Environment

Fines for using styrofoam range from about $760 to $7,600.

Costa Rica has rolled out many revolutionary environmental policies in the last decade making it a leader in fighting climate change and pollution. In 2010, Costa Rica pledged to become the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2021, and as of 2018, 73.8% of Costa Rica’s electricity was generated through hydroelectric plants, while the remaining energy was sourced from wind, geothermal energy, biomass and solar energy.

“This initiative is a giant step for public health, the environment, and the economy of the country because styrofoam generates great pollution,” said legislator Paola Vega.

Plastic is a major environmental pollutant in Costa Rica which accounts for only 0.03% of the earth’s surface but contains 6% of the world’s biodiversity. To preserve one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, plastic waste and other forms of pollution have to be controlled and kept in check.

Toucan bird is one of the indogenous and emblematic species of Costa Rica. Photo credit: FINTAN O' BRIEN at Pixabay.

Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, is one of the most widely used forms of plastic, mostly found in items like cups, take-out containers, and plates. Solid polystyrene is used to make everything from plastic cutlery to yogurt cups to DVD cases. Although, styrofoam is technically recyclable, it can only be recycled if it is clean, un-dyed, and uncontaminated which is especially difficult since it is widely used to hold food.

Experts believe that it may take styrofoam anywhere between 500 and 1 million years to naturally decompose. Most of the product ultimately ends up in landfills and water bodies. Once consumed by microorganisms such as plankton or smaller fish, these contaminated particles enter the food chain, dangerously affecting our health.

Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health will take the responsibility of regulating the ban on styrofoam in the country and will impose sanctions if required.

For more details read the original article on Global Citizen!

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