Bronx Restaurateurs Voice Concerns over Proposed Foam Ban

New York City’s restaurant owners have growing concerns over the potential economic impact of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on foam foodservice items. The proposal was first mentioned in February’s State of the City address and then formally introduced into the City Council in June. Bloomberg believes banning foam products will decrease the amount of waste sent to local landfills.  Banning foam, which is often referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, would mean a ban on the takeout containers and foam cups that many local restaurants and street vendors use daily.

One restaurateur who would be immediately affected by this ban is Pablo Martinez, who owns the Dominican Restaurant in New York City’s Bronx neighborhood. Martinez uses polystyrene foam items for both his in-restaurant and take-out services, and notes that most alternatives to foam would be too flimsy for his style of food. Because of this, Martinez would be forced to switch to aluminum serving products, which he estimates cost five times more than foam items.  This is a cost that Martinez would be forced to pass along to his patrons, many of whom reside in areas where poverty rates are already high.

Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo visited Martinez’s Dominican Restaurant and four other establishments within the Bronx neighborhood on August 30th to discuss the effects this bill would have on owners.  She commented that her visits were “not a rally against the legislation; [instead were] to learn about the nuances for business owners,” including an increase in operating costs.  Members of the Restaurant Action Alliance NYC, an organization made up of nearly 2,300 restaurant owners against banning foam products, also joined Councilmember del Carmen Arroyo on her visits.

The economic burden a foam ban places on restaurants and small businesses could be avoided altogether with the implementation of a recycling program specific to foam products. Dart Container Corporation, a Michigan-based manufacturer of foam items, has developed programs to responsibly dispose of these products, and works with several organizations throughout the US to put these solutions in place.  Dart’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) Program, for instance, provides participants with a device to compress collected foam to a fraction of its original size. The compressed material is then sent to a manufacturer that recycles the mass into new consumer products, such as architectural molding and picture frames.

Source: Epoch Times

Foam Bans