Many New York City restaurant owners have concerns over the potential ban of polystyrene foam that would increase the cost of doing business. To highlight their concerns, more than 1,000 local businesses have written personal letters to the City Council opposing the ban. The letters were triggered by legislation introduced in June 2013 that would prohibit the sale or use of all foam foodservice products within New York City. Banning polystyrene (PS) foam, which is often referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, would mean a ban on the convenient and cost-effective foam cups and takeout containers that many local restaurants and street vendors depend on daily.
According to a study from MB Public Affairs, forcing restaurant owners and food vendors to switch from foam products to alternatives could nearly double their product cost. The study states that for every $1.00 spent on foam foodservice items, restaurants will have to spend at least $1.94 on alternatives. According to Dennis Linardaxuji, owner of Bus Stop Restaurant, “Foam containers are the best product for my business. My customers like them because they keep food hot and don’t make a mess. I like them because they are more affordable, convenient, sanitary and sturdy. I wrote to the City Council to tell them that they should stick up for the people who are creating jobs and feeding this city, not rubberstamping a regulation that won’t do anything to reduce waste.”
Many local business owners that will be affected by this have also met personally with City Council Members to voice their concerns. Some Council Members, including Robert Jackson and Diane Reyna, also plan to host neighborhood tours in the coming weeks to speak with individuals about the ban and the burden it will place on communities. Economics aside, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s overall reasoning for this ban is to reduce the amount of waste sent to area landfills; however, banning foam will not actually accomplish this goal. The inconvenience of alternatives to foam cups, such as paper, will lead consumers to “double cup” their hot beverages, meaning that even more waste will end up being sent to landfills. On top of this, foam products require less energy and release fewer emissions throughout the manufacturing process compared with paper alternatives.
In lieu of imposing a ban, many business owners are calling for a foam recycling program to be implemented within New York City. More than 60 cities in California are already seeing success from introducing similar programs. City Council Member Peter Vallone supports this idea, stating: “Foam can and should be recycled, and I urge the Mayor to work with the Council to explore this option instead of a ban. We need solutions that work, not window dressing.” Dart Container Corporation currently provides this capability to cities and organizations throughout the US. Dart uses technology to compress polystyrene foam to a fraction of its original size, making the foam usable for manufacturers who incorporate the discarded material into the production of new consumer goods. This technique removes polystyrene foam waste from landfills, as well as reintroduces a product at the end of its life back into the consumer market.
Source: PR Newswire