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National Journal notes Virginia Rep. Jim Moran (D) wants to dump the polystyrene cups (also known as “Styrofoam”) that Republicans brought back when they took over the House in 2010. Moran has introduced a bill that would Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) defends the use by noting that they’ve got a recycling program, of sorts. A regular trash burn that converts Capitol Hill garbage into electricity:
“We were just starting [the waste-to-energy program] when we had this debate last year,” Lungren said. “It now exists. Styrofoam, as well as everything else, is part of the burn.”
And this actually doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. As Slate pointed out back in 2008, even though polystyrene isn’t biodegradable, neither are paper cups when they go into landfills (landfills are designed to inhibit it). And paper cups aren’t really recyclable, since they’ve often got wax coating and drink residue on them. In reality, it’s six of one, half-dozen of the other: Burning Styrofoam releases a bunch of chemicals into the air, but paper is made of trees and water and tons of energy.
Of course, the House could be using cups made of recycled materials—but having been dripped on more than a few times by leaky eco-friendly cups, I know that “green” doesn’t always equal “useable.” At a previous job, it got to the point where we were doubling up the green cups and drinking as quickly as possible. And in the past, Hill staffers have complained about the crappy recycled utensils ushered in by then-Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
I’ve gotta give this one to the Republicans. And considering that Moran admits the bill will probably fail, he should maybe focus his energies on something a little more productive.
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