styrofoam nyc ban
by Michael dEstries
Categories: Causes, Environment.

Attention NYC eateries: It may be time to start thinking beyond styrofoam.

A sanitation official Wednesday revealed that a potential ban on the white stuff is under discussion as part of an upcoming report on increasing recycling rates in residential areas. “We’re studying all the different things in our waste stream. We want to make sure that everything in our waste stream is recyclable,” Ron Gonen, deputy commissioner for recycling at Sanitation, told The Post.

According to the AP, Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year set a goal of recycling 30 percent of the city’s household trash by 2017, up from about 15 percent now.

Of course, none of this is surprising. Styrofoam in notoriously difficult to recycle and takes a very long time to decompose (anywhere from a decade to centuries). Here’s NYC current official position on the stuff: 

Styrofoam is very difficult to recycle unless kept very clean and separate from all other types of plastic. For this reason, New York City and most other cities’ plastics recycling programs do not collect it with commingled recycling.

Because of the difficulty of recycling expanded polystyrene, there are relatively few plants in the U.S. that will take it. This means that the material must be shipped to distant factories. The transport and processing is expensive, unsustainable, and not environmentally friendly.

DSNY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling encourages New Yorkers to consider alternatives to Styrofoam wherever possible.

So yes, it’s basically only a matter of time before styrofoam is shown the door. Naturally, the restaurant industry is less than pleased.

“We shouldn’t start banning products until we have done a more full analysis of the costs associated, not only with government but for small businesses,” New York State Restaurant Association spokesman Andrew Moesel told the AP Wednesday. “Now is not the time to continue to put more regulations and cost burdens on an industry that is already struggling to make a profit.”

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About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Green Harmony Living

    It’s about time that styrofoam and all other unrecyclable things are banned. There is no need for styrofoam today since we have paper or plant based food packaging materials available that work just as well.

    But why stop there? I actually think us Americans should do much more! We need to do what has been done in Europe where manufacturers are required to take back whatever they sell. This law has helped reduce excess packaging to a large degree. It’s time to get serious about reducing waste and the way to do it is to reduce or eliminate unnecessary packaging, elininate unrecyclable or unreusable products. To keep putting products into landfills or incinerating them is unsustainable causing water, soil, and air pollution.

    • 2ndGreenRevolution Blog

      I agree (I can’t stand styrofoam), though it would be nice to see a cost analysis. Plastic can also be troublesome, as certain kinds are harder to recycle and can’t be mixed with other plastics.