An unexpected Covid side effect: foam containers

By Adam Balkin/Delta Staff Writer

When making plans to keep the Missouri Valley College Campus safe, administrators made operational changes to MVC’s dining facilities to increase options for “to go” meals.

That’s created a new issue: foam containers. At best, the containers occupy most of the space in the large garbage cans around campus. Worse, they can be seen lying around campus and flying in the wind.

Foam containers are cheap and made from polystyrene, a petroleum based plastic. That low cost makes them a go to option for the food services industry, but some students and faculty members have complained about the containers being a nuisance to the environment. 

“I hate the fact that we use so much Styrofoam,” said Missouri Valley College Student Mila Saole.  “It’s killing the environment. We need to use plant based containers or just have everybody stay in the cafe and eat. My trash is ready to be taken out every two days.” 

Assistant Director of Dining Services Martin Porter said students can help reduce the volume of foam containers outside the dining halls by using them more responsibly. He said some students are using more containers than needed and grabbing extra boxes exacerbating the problem on campus. 

“Each day we go through at least 1,000 to 1,200 Styrofoam containers,” Porter said. “What we try to get students to understand is when they actually are eating in the dining room, to eat on the china instead of utilizing a to go box and if they use a to go box, actually leave with them and try to combine things instead of having multiple boxes.”  

The college plans on continuing using the foam containers through the rest of the semester.

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