EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (KAYLITE): WHAT ARE ITS IMPACTS?
- 11 Jul
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The food industry has contributed immensely to the waste management challenge in Zimbabwe through the use of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), popularly known as kaylite, as packaging material. Kaylite has detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Internationally, New York, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Bostonhave banned the use of EPS. In the region, South Africa mainly use paper packaging. In Zimbabwe, the use of EPS is prohibited by Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012 as read with Section 140 of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27).
IMPACTS OF EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE
While there are some positive aspects of the material, Polystyrene has more harmful effects.
Waste Management problem
Polystyrene foam presents unique management issues because of its lightweight nature, floatability and prevalence to be blown from disposal site even when disposed of properly. The lightweight and buoyant polystyrene travels easily through gutters and storm drains, eventually reaching the water bodies, thereby reducing the aesthetic value of the environment. When polystyrene reaches the lakes and rivers, it breaks down into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life into the food chain, thereby damaging human health.