Uptown 7-Elevens, such as this 139thStreet location, are selling Igloo Recool biodegradable coolers. These coolers are an eco-friendly alternative to disposable Styrofoam ones, and can be used numerous times: simply empty the melted ice and let dry. 

(Feb. 7, 2020) City Council President Lloyd Martin decided to offer an alternative cooler solution to the resort’s increasingly environmentally conscious consumers by offering something different at his 7-Elevens — the Igloo Recool biodegradable cooler. 

The coolers are made of a mix of paraffin wax and recycled tree pulp, and are reusable — simply empty it and let it dry. 

CNET reported last year that a seven-pound bag of ice kept the cooler at roughly 40 degrees Fahrenheit for an impressive 15 hours before slowly warming up. 

City Councilman Tony DeLuca applauded the move, as he has said on various occasions that Styrofoam coolers are one of the most littered items in the resort, trailing right behind cigarette butts. 

The issue is not unique to Ocean City, as a study of beach debris at 43 sites along the Orange County, Los Angeles coast found polystyrene to be the West Coast’s second-most common litter, as well. 

Martin’s decision was well timed, too, as the resort prepares for a historic statewide ban on food-service Styrofoam products effective July 1, although Styrofoam coolers are not subject to the ban. 

Similarly to other plastics, Styrofoam photodegrades, which means it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that can leech toxic chemicals into water and are often mistaken as food by marine animals — which are then consumed by humans. 

Aside from being indigestible, the plastic product also has health implications for humans, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified styrene, the main component of polystyrene, from a possible carcinogen to a probable carcinogen in 2018. 

In a study called, “Styrene Exposure and Risk of Lymphohematopoietic Malignancies in 73,036 Reinforced Plastics Workers,” researchers followed thousands of workers in 456 small to medium-sized Danish reinforced plastics companies from 1968 to 2011. 

“Out of the more than 70,000 people included in the research project, we found 25 cases of acute myeloid leukemia, where you would statistically expect to find 10,” said Professor Henrik Kolstad, one of the researchers involved in the study. 

With the environmental and health implications considered, local climate and environment groups hope Martin’s decision will be adopted by other businesses. 

“We’re thrilled to see our local 7-Eleven franchise step up to the plate and invest in a better environment,” said Sandi Smith of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. “Hopefully this will set the precedence for others to follow. You can’t believe how many lids are found on our beaches in the summertime.” 

Ocean City Today was unable to reach Martin in time for publication.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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