Washington (CNN) – An old standard is being reintroduced in cafeterias throughout the Capitol: Styrofoam cups.
A little over a month after taking control of the House, Republicans have changed a pivotal element of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "Green the Capitol" initiative. Since 2007, non-recyclable, Styrofoam cups were replaced with environmentally friendly biodegradable cups.
The reappearance of Styrofoam cups is one move towards phasing out Pelosi's program, which brought climate-friendly vending machines and compact fluorescent light bulbs to the Capitol. The plan successfully reduced energy consumption by 23 percent and water consumption by 32 percent throughout Capitol buildings, according to an April 2010 report.
One of the most controversial steps towards eco-friendliness was the unveiling of compostable utensils and takeout trays in House cafeterias. Staffers complained that the sensitive material of the utensils made them vulnerable to frequent breakage.
The composting program of Pelosi's green initiative cost taxpayers $475,000 annually, according to Salley Wood, spokesman for the Committee on House Administration, who added that the entire initiative cost millions annually.
In response to reemergence of Styrofoam cups, Pelosi tweeted Monday evening, "#SoBelt GOP brings back Styrofoam & ends composting-House will send 535 more tons to landfills #TalkAboutGovtWaste."
In response to the phasing out of Pelosi's green initiative, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel issued the following statement:
"Evidently the Republican economic strategy for jobs is one word: 'Styrofoam.' In two months they haven't created a single job, but they have boldly brought Styrofoam cups back to the congressional cafeterias. At least the 700,000 Americans whose jobs the Republican budget eliminates can sleep better at night knowing that the Republicans have made the world safe for Styrofoam."
Rep. Dan Lungren, R-California, chairman of the House Administration Committee, ordered the composting program into suspension.
"After a thorough review of the House's composting operations, I have concluded that it is neither cost effective nor energy efficient to continue the program," Lungren said last month.
After a review, Lungren concluded that the plan was failing to meet its primary objectives, Wood said.
A pilot program that will test the feasibility of using reusable dishware in the Rayburn House office building's cafeteria is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks, Wood added.