When Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City introduced the idea of banning polystyrene foam foodservice products in a February State of the City address, his policy-makers wasted no time outlining this plan without considering alternative options. The bill for this initiative is now being questioned by many who ask why foam, commonly known as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, cannot remain a convenience throughout the city and then be recycled locally. If implemented, this proposed foam ban would force local restaurants and eateries to replace foam foodservice items with higher priced alternatives.
The City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) refuses to consider recycling polystyrene foam because it claims the process will be “expensive, unsustainable and not environmentally friendly.” However, as pointed out by the American Chemistry Council, over 65 cities within California are already successfully recycling foam. Recycling could be a viable option for New York City, but Bloomberg’s officials refuse to consider the thought, even going so far as to have DSNY discourage school children from placing the 830,000 foam trays used daily into recycling bins.
The truth is that because foam products are so lightweight, they account for only half of one percent of all of New York City’s solid waste and are usually the best option among single-use items for the environment. The refusal to even entertain the idea of recycling polystyrene foam within New York City limits options for effective environmental managements and is harmful to business owners and residents. Several organizations, such as Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation, are making it easier than ever to recycle foam products. Implementing a recycling initiative would save money for businesses within New York City as well as create new economic opportunities within the U.S.