Foam Free Campus

Effective: Friday, January 1, 2016

Last Revised: Monday, October 5, 2020

Responsible University Administrator: Vice Chancellor, Business & Finance

Responsible University Office: Business & Finance

Policy Contact: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Business & Finance


This policy applies to all University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) faculty, staff, students, and vendors.

Policy Statement

University of Nebraska (NU) Central Administration and UNL are foam-free campuses. NU prohibits the sale, procurement or distribution of packaging foam or expanded polystyrene (EPS) in food containers and discourages packaging materials.

The responsibility for complying with the policy rests with the individual departments, faculty, staff, students, and suppliers. If a Registered Student Organization is observed in violation of the policy, they will not be reimbursed for their purchases. Contracted suppliers will not sell, give or deliver Styrofoam food service product to the campus. If a supplier is observed in violation of the policy, they will be required to remedy the situation.


The following activities may receive an exception to this policy:

  • Use of EPS Products may be permitted for the purchase of products utilized in laboratory or medical settings.
  • Other reasonable exceptions as determined by the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance and approved by the Chancellor.

The University reserves the right to modify, amend, or terminate this policy, in part or in whole, at any time.

Reason for Policy

Styrene, the key ingredient in EPS, was added to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program’s list of carcinogens. Styrene can leach from polystyrene containers into food and beverages.

EPS is not recyclable, nor is it biodegradable. Once buried in a landfill, it will persist for centuries.

Thus, eliminating the usage of expanded polystyrene packaging provides a healthy environment that promotes an environmentally responsible culture for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.


Biodegradable: Capability of being degraded by biological activity.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS): Polystyrene that has been expanded or “blown” using a gaseous blowing agent into a solid form.

Polystyrene: Expanded polystyrene which is a thermoplastic petrochemical material utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of polymer spheres (expandable bead of polystyrene), injection molding, form molding, and extrusion-blow molding (extruding foam polystyrene). It also includes clear or solid polystyrene which is known as “oriented polystyrene”.

Recyclable: Able to be converted into new materials or objects.

Additional Contacts

Office of Sustainability -


Recycling Services -


Procurement Services -



  • February 2015, ASUN Environmental Sustainability Committee launched a campaign titled “Foam Free UNL.”
  • March 2015, ASUN passed legislation that stopped the organization from funding EPS use.
  • January 2016, University of Nebraska stopped the sales of ESP for all food and beverage containers.