The debate on the expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam ban in New York City continues and tensions are rising. In mid-May, a coalition of interested parties against the foam ban decided to sue the Mayor, the Commissioner and the NYC Department of Sanitation for illegally banning foam foodservice products. A City Council mandate clearly stated that the NYC Department of Sanitation had to determine if and how EPS foam can be recycled; otherwise, it would be banned. The Sanitation Department determined that foam cannot be recycled, which formed the basis of the decision to ban foam. This statement outraged many due to the fact that foam can definitely be recycled. In fact, many cities are now offering drop-off and/or curbside recycling for foam. Denver, in particular, is one shining example of how local companies are making foam recycling a priority for the future.
Earlier this year, the first North American grant program was announced with the hopes of increasing the collection, recycling and post-consumer sale of polystyrene foam. Alpine Waste & Recycling from Commerce City, CO, were the first recipient of this grant from the Foam Recycling Coalition, part of the Food Packaging Institute (FPI). According to FPI president Lynn Dyer, this was due to Alpine’s thoughtfulness and future-readiness as expressed in its application. Alpine is thinking much broader than just local residents recycling their foam coffee cups and take out containers; it is also appealing to businesses and organizations to recycle their foam foodservice and packaging products at the Altogether Recycling Plant, a division of Alpine.
While the debate rolls on in NYC, local waste management companies across the US and Canada are making it clear that foam can be and will be recycled. Now is the time for progressive action, and NYC needs to get on board before it gets left behind.