New York City, Feb 16, 2013 - On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed banning polystyrene food packaging. He made the statement while giving the Mayors State of the City Address.
The idea of banning polystyrene food containers is not new. Way back in 1989, Sonoma County, California banned polystyrene food packaging. Then in 1990, Freeport, Maine banned polystyrene foam food containers.
Freeport's ordinance was called the “Styrofoam Ordinance” even though STYROFOAM™ is a trademarked brand of the Dow Chemical Company and is not used in foam food containers.
In recent years, numerous cities on the west coast have banned polystyrene food containers including Menlo Park, California, whose polystyrene ban took effect last November. Many other municipalities are planning polystyrene bans including San Jose, California.
Excerpt from Mayor Bloomberg's State of the City Address:
Expanding Waste Reduction and Recycling and Seeking to Ban Polystyrene Foam
“We’ll also take major new steps toward another important sustainability goal that we’ve set: Doubling the city’s recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017… It starts with making recycling easier for everyone by putting 1,000 new recycling containers in streets on all five boroughs this year… We’ll also tackle New York City’s final recycling frontier: food waste… So with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants. And don’t worry: the doggie bag will survive just fine.”
- Put 1,000 new recycling containers on streets in all five boroughs this year.
- Work with Speaker Quinn and the City Council to adopt a law banning polystyrene foam food packaging from stores and restaurants.
- Finalize a major new facility in South Brooklyn that will accept all kinds of plastics, have a state-of-the-art education center to teach children about recycling and one of the largest solar installations in the city.
- Begin recycling food waste, nearly 200,000 tons of which fill landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton. That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price.
- Launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island for composting.
Ban Would Affect A Variety of Food Vendors
Banning polystyrene food containers would affect not only restaurants, deli's and coffee shops, but also grocers and food trucks. What would food retailers use to replace the polystyrene?
Actually, there are many enviro-friendly alternatives available in the market today. One successful idea has been "Go Box" in Portland, Oregon. Go Box caters mainly to Portland's food trucks to reduce the number of disposable containers used each month. Read the story: Go Box Reduces Food Cart Waste in Portland
Mayor Bloomberg is known for implementing health initiatives in his city. He participates in the National Salt Reduction Initiative, has successfully banned trans fats in New York eateries, and last year, was successful in implementing an ordinance which limited the size of the container that could be used when selling sugary soft drinks.
Considering the Mayor's past successes, New York food merchants probably should start to get prepared.