Coffee cups, plates, and other disposable items often found in office kitchens can easily generate a lot of waste. One of the major culprits is polystyrene, aka Styrofoam, a common substance that’s cheap but causes headaches for environmentalists. Because it’s so difficult to recycle these products, some activists are lobbying for polystyrene items to be banned completely.

The Park Record spotlights one example of this in Utah, where the nonprofit Recycle Utah has been trying to educate locals as to the dangers of polystyrene. Teri Sowul, the organization’s outreach coordinator, told the source that this substance is simply more trouble than it’s worth at the moment.

While it’s currently more cost-effective for schools and restaurants to use polystyrene items, Sowul says that in the long run, the health risks and environmental footprint lead to much greater consequences than most are probably aware of.

“Technology for recycling polystyrene is available, but it’s not implemented in this country because it’s very expensive and a huge hassle to set up,” Sowul said. “Also, because it is so light, it has a tendency to break into small pieces that fly away and it gets into the environment.”

Aside from being virtually impossible to recycle, these products also release harmful chemicals when hot foods and drinks are placed inside them. Sowul also added that the health effects become more serious over a long period of time, and can lead to nervous system damage.

Education and awareness are important parts of making progressive changes. Businesses should invest in environmental office solutions to make their office better equipped to reduce waste and promote health for their employees.