SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment reports that all 12 of its theme parks have removed polystyrene foam dinnerware products from their dining operations. The company says it has switched to products made from 100% recycled material for items that include bowls, plates, and trays.
Previously, SeaWorld was using an estimated 14 million pieces of polystyrene foam dinnerware each year that resists composition and is hard to recycle, according to the corporate vice president of in-park revenue, Andrew Ngo. “Reducing our environmental footprint is an important part of our mission,” he said.
The theme park and entertainment company first eliminated polystyrene foam at SeaWorld San Diego in 2013. That same year SeaWorld began removing plastic shopping bags from its parks. Last summer, the company announced it had completely removed the bags as well as single-use plastic straws and plastic coffee stirrers across all locations.
Over the past several years, local governments around the country have moved to ban polystyrene foam. The Associated Press pointed out that Baltimore, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon banned businesses from using foam food containers. New York City’s ban went into effect on January 1, 2019. In Florida, St. Petersburg’s City Council voted to ban single-use plastic straws and expanded polystyrene last December. Enforcement begins in 2020, although the ordinance has exemptions for drive-thrus, hospitals, grocery stores, and convenience stores, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Although SeaWorld didn’t specify exactly which kind of recycled products would replace the polystyrene foam dinnerware, the announcement is linked to the company’s efforts around ocean and animal stewardship.
“We’ve seen first-hand the horrific damage that plastic pollution causes to animals,” SeaWorld Orlando manager of rescue operations Jon Peterson told Orlando Weekly last summer.
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