On Nov. 19, Environment Texas joined with Care2.com and the Surfrider Foundation to deliver 53,000 petitions and a letter from conservation leaders to Whataburger’s HQ in San Antonio and restaurants in Austin and Corpus Christi. The petitions and letter asked Whataburger to stop its use of polystyrene cups and containers. Polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam, is one of the worst and most common types of plastic and can be deadly to wildlife.
Our events attracted widespread media coverage, including front page stories in the Houston Chronicle and at least 68 stories on TV and radio. Whataburger has now agreed to meet with us on Dec. 19 to discuss alternatives.
70 million plastic foam cups are estimated to be disposed by Americans every day. Most of the waste will spend hundreds and thousands of years sitting in landfills. About one third ends up in the environment, especially our rivers, lakes, and oceans.
For a bird or fish or turtle, it’s easy to mistake a small piece of polystyrene for food. When animals ingest plastic waste, it can block their digestive tracts. As a result, they starve.
Millions of polystyrene cups end up on Texas roads and beaches each year. Research presented at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference this year showed Texas has more trash on its beaches than any other state in the nation. The state of Texas and its major cities spend at least $96 million annually to clean up litter, including polystyrene cups and containers, and illegal dumping.
Nothing we use for only a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for hundreds of years. To reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, environment, and landfills, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of polystyrene handed to consumers every day. It is an eyesore, a threat to wildlife, and a burden on taxpayers, not only in Texas, but in the ten states where Whataburger operates, and it must come to an end.
We hope they’ll join the ranks of companies like Mcdonald’s and Dunkin Donuts hand end their use of polystyrene cups and containers.
We love Whataburger. And we love our planet.
Executive Director, Environment Texas
As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.