This week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced
his intentions to enact a plastic foam ban within the Five Boroughs. The
announcement was made at the mayor's final "State of the City" address
for his term and quickly polarized the city in much the same way his ban on
large soft drinks has.
Mayor Bloomberg explained that roughly 20,000 tons of the city's waste comes from plastic foam containers distributed at food trucks, fast food restaurants, coffee shops and sit-down eateries that offer takeout services. Plastic foam is not biodegradable and lingers in landfills decade after decade.
Bans on plastic foam are not unheard of. Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco have all placed partial or complete bans on plastic foam containers. During his time as mayor, New York City's own Ed Koch pushed hard for a reduction in plastic foam waste and was credited with prompting McDonald's to make the switch from Styrofoam containers to paper.
Still, many New York City food businesses are not pleased about the proposed ban. Many fear that making the switch to other materials can lead to increased costs or poor results. For example, a representative of Dunkin Donuts spoke out to the Associated Press stating that the company has been unable to find cups that properly insulate their coffee without the need for paper sleeves, which the corporation feels create unnecessary waste.
For restauranteurs in New York City, there are some relatively low cost alternatives available to traditional plastic foam. Companies like Eco Products produce full lines of takeout containers out of materials like sugarcane and PLA, a type of plastic made from corn and other vegetable fibers. These containers are compostable and biodegradable and designed to perform as well as plastic foam.
What are your opinions of Bloomberg's proposed plastic foam ban? Let us know in the "Comments" section.