New York City goes ahead with planned ban on EPS food packaging / Rigid PS unaffected / Officials say recycling is infeasible / Chemistry Council says legislation will hurt economy
New York City has reaffirmed plans to implement legislation banning the use of expandable polystyrene foam (EPS) in certain food and other packaging applications – see of 13.01.2014. From 1 July 2014, food establishments, including takeaway restaurants and street carts, will no longer be able to dispense EPS foam cups or containers. The sale of foam packaging “peanuts” within the city limits also will be prohibited, although packages containing the peanuts can still be shipped to addresses in the city. The ruling does not apply to rigid polystyrene foam.

The largest US city, with an estimated population of around 8.4m, joins a host of other American municipalities in restricting foam-based food packaging. The list includes many California cities – notably San Francisco – as well as some in the northwest such as Seattle, Washington, and the northeast such as Portland, Maine. In the Midwest, only Minneapolis, Minnesota, has implemented a ban. The latest to join the list of cities planning bans is the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, which will implement legislation similar to that of New York from 2016.

Outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the New York legislation in 2013. In early 2014, the administration of his successor, Bill de Blasio, promised to study collection and recycling of the discarded cups and containers clogging the city’s landfills. On 8 January of this year, he announced that recycling had been deemed infeasible due to the sheer amount of foam waste, which has now grown to as much as 30,000 t – including rigid polystyrene – according to the most recent estimates.

New York’s sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, told US media that “removing polystyrene from our waste stream is not only good for a greener, more sustainable New York, but also for the communities who are home to landfills receiving the city’s trash." "It does not make environmental sense to try and separate it out because there’s no place to sell it,” Garcia added.

While Dart Container (Mason, Michigan / USA;, the company claiming to be the world’s largest producer of disposable foam cups, disputes the city’s contention that there is no place to sell the EPS waste, Eric Goldstein, New York City environment director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC, New York, New York;, a non-profit international environmental advocacy organization, called the decision “an important and encouraging step,” adding that there is a “growing recognition” that the materials cause “disproportionate environmental and pollution problems, and there are readily available substitutes. “

Dart’s director of corporate recycling, Michael Westerfield, told the newspaper Wall Street Journal the company had negotiated with city officials but had not been able to prevent the ban, which as he noted does not cover, for example, packaging materials for large appliances. Dart is said to have offered a five-year guarantee that the collected foam would be recycled into new products. However, the city feared it could have to deal with the issue again once the guarantee expired.

In a statement, Mike Levy, senior director of the Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group within the American Chemistry Council (ACC, Washington, DC;, said the New York decision “illogically ignores an offer to recycling these materials at no cost to the city.“ ACC said it sees a commercial demand for recycled foam packaging, pointing out that “nearly 140 companies process or use the plastic material in the United States and Canada.”

The association representing chemical manufacturers also predicted that the restrictions on foam packaging will harm the economy of New York state, which it said is home to four foam foodservice packaging companies with nine facilities employing 1,500 people.

One of New York’s largest takeout restaurants, Dunkin Doughnuts, which is testing new types of coffee containers, including a double-walled paper cup, has already indicated that all of its 536 shops in the city’s five boroughs will comply with the ban. Other takeaway establishments and street vendors said they would begin charging more for their products to recoup the expected cost of replacing foam in packaging. Some critics expect to see the legislation defeated in court, where a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in large containers proposed earlier by former mayor Bloomberg was overturned.
13.01.2015 [230230-0]
Published on 13.01.2015

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