Last month, Styrofoam cups were reintroduced to the U.S. Capitol Complex.
The return of these non-biodegradable, non-recyclable products ??? implemented by the House's new Republican leadership ??? presents a major setback for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "Greening the Capitol" initiative, which endeavored to reduce both the carbon footprint and the amount of waste produced by the House office buildings.
Adhering to these goals, House cafeterias replaced Styrofoam cups with environmentally friendly biodegradable cups, along with compostable utensils and takeout trays in 2007. Climate friendly vending machines and compact fluorescent light bulbs were also introduced.By April 2010, the "Greening the Capitol" initiative successfully reduced energy consumption by 32% and water consumption by 32%, saving taxpayers over $3.3 million annually.
Now however, the reintroduction of Styrofoam cups to replace biodegradable cups, and the elimination of the Capitol's composting program by House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA), present a major setback in efforts to make the U.S. Capitol increasingly environmentally friendly.