GBF Report - Polystyrene Foam

23 4. Discussion and Conclusions 4.1 Uncertainties and data gaps Data gaps for PS foam remain, especially since methods are limited to attribute environmental PS foam to sources. For example, when PS foam is small, it can be difficult to say whether these fragments originated from docks or other sources. This is also a challenge for all plastic types found in the environment. However, new methods have been proposed to help attribute plastic found in the environment to link them to sources. Identifying chemical additives in PS foam may present an opportunity to link foam in the environment to possible sources. For example, flame retardants added in high concentrations could link foam to construction material as a source. In addition, future work should identify whether effects to organisms are from the physical particle, chemical additives, or both. 4.2 Conclusions The known effects of PS and the ubiquity of PS foam as a pollutant in Georgian Bay, the Great Lakes, and globally is cause for concern. There are known solutions to limit PS foam that can move towards eliminating this type of plastic pollution from the environment. Alternatives exist to PS foam in floating docks, and there is currently a call to action to demand more sustainable materials. 4.3 Next steps There are actions that can be taken to prevent additional PS foam pollution from building up in the environment. Producers, sellers, buyers, and governments can work together to prevent future unencapsulated foam use for docks or other uses in freshwater; additionally existing unencapsulated foam docks can be replaced with alternative materials while ensuring owners of discarded PS foam docks have access to proper disposal, thereby discouraging abandonment in the aquatic environment. Currently, PS docks and floats can be replaced by alternatives, for example wood and metal. These materials are considered to be less toxic and less persistent in the environment. Durable plastic could also be an option since certain polymers are less likely to fragment into microplastics, although concerns over leachates also exist for other plastic materials. There are local ordinances, state regulations, or entity requirements for encapsulating foam in docks. Examples include: Oregon, Washington State, Arkansas, Miami-Dade, the Lower River Colorado Authority, the Lake of the Ozarks, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the Lower River Colorado Authority. 1 1 Enclosed dock foam rules sources: Oregon ( Rules_2019.pdf) , Washington State ( ), Arkansas ( file/d/1VXuxUYnNDmHOw-A9i3uWCZzexX8zRuAD/view) , Miami-Dade ( file=true&yearFolder=Y2017) , Lake of the Ozarks ( ), Unites States Army Corps of Engineers policy 1130- 2-406, Appendix C, Page 3, Paragraph 14 USACE 2008c from: Restrictions on certain EPS products like packaging or containers have emerged or are proposed. Examples include: New York City, Maine, Maryland, San Francisco, and the City of Vancouver. EPS regulation sources: New York City ( out-laws-for-business/foam-ban ), San Francisco ( ), Maine ( LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280071044 ), Maryland ( ), City of Vancouver ( )