NYC Misses Major Opportunity in Recycling, Economic Growth

After a year of working towards a solution to reduce the amount of foam sent to landfills from New York City and create new economic ventures to spur growth, city leaders have decided to halt all opportunities and, instead, place a ban on single-use polystyrene foam products. Because of this, consumers will no longer be able to access the foam products they prefer – such as take-away food containers and hot beverage cups – and, even worse, the products to be used in lieu of foam will be sent directly to local landfills as opposed to being recycled. When referring to polystyrene foam single-use items, consumers often mistakenly refer to them as Styrofoam®, which is registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.

This decision comes from amended legislation originally passed on December 19, 2013, regarding the possibility of a foam ban. At that time, New York City Council Members presented an opportunity for organizations to explore foam recycling options for the city and prove its feasibility. Although a structured plan to put a recycling program in place was presented, the leaders of the city have opted to forgo any opportunity to implement a sustainable recycling program and, instead, simply replace foam products with high-costing alternatives. Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation pushed forward with real-world tests and experiments during this time, and ultimately proved, without a doubt, the feasibility of a recycling program in the city. Despite findings demonstrating the feasibility of recycling foam presented to Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, city officials decided on January 8 to not implement a foam recycling plan for the city.

Dart’s Michael Westerfield comments on this: “The offer we made was a win for taxpayers, small businesses, and the environment. As a result of the Commissioner’s decision, taxpayers will continue to pay to landfill foam and solid polystyrene.” Dart and other organizations worked to develop a plan that would have ultimately removed single-use foam items from the local waste stream at no cost to the city.

The choice made by the city’s leaders will not only continue to send unnecessary waste to landfills, but also cause the city to miss out on the opportunity to create new economic growth through manufacturing. Recycled polystyrene foam is a high commodity within several manufacturing industries because it is used in the production of new consumer products, yet costs much less than virgin polystyrene foam. Westerfield notes that “[Dart] repeatedly demonstrated to the Commissioner, there is a strong market for recycled polystyrene.” According to the American Chemistry Council, more than 140 companies process or use the material in the U.S. and Canada alone. Many observers view the decision as an environmental and economic loss for the city of New York.

Source: PR Newswire

Foam Bans