NYC considering a Styrofoam ban

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As reported in DNAinfo, Deputy Com­mis­sioner for Recy­cling and Sus­tain­abil­ity Ron Gonen recently called for leg­is­la­tion to ban all food ser­vice Sty­ro­foam con­tain­ers and pack­ag­ing in New York City. He empha­sized that the impe­tus would not be on the con­sumer, but on busi­nesses and restau­rants that buy extended poly­styrene — the tech­ni­cal name for Sty­ro­foam, which is trade­marked by the Dow Chem­i­cal Com­pany. Gonen cited the dis­posal costs to the city, and the dam­age that the non-biodegradable mate­r­ial con­tributes to the envi­ron­ment, as rea­sons for imple­ment­ing the ban.

In 1986, the EPA iden­ti­fied 57 chem­i­cal byprod­ucts that were released into the air through its pro­duc­tion and many of the pol­lu­tants are known to cause seri­ous health effects such as the reduced func­tion­ing of the lungs and ner­vous sys­tems. Every year Amer­i­cans waste enough poly­styrene that it could cir­cle the Earth 426 times”  says the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

The pro­posed ban is part of a larger report on ways to increase the city’s recy­cling rate from 15% to 30% by 2017. The city is look­ing into other ways to decrease the amount of trash sent to the land­fill, which costs an aver­age of $86 per ton (to the tune of 2 mil­lion tons of garbage a year, or $172 bil­lion annu­ally). NYC earns around $10– 14 per ton of recy­cled paper, plas­tic or glass (http://​www​.huff​in​g​ton​post​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​2​/​0​7​/​s​t​y​r​o​f​o​a​m​-​c​u​p​-​c​o​n​t​a​i​n​e​r​-​b​a​n​-​n​e​w​-​y​o​r​k​-​c​i​t​y​_​n​_​2​6​3​7​6​7​0​.​h​t​m​l​?​u​t​m​_​h​p​_​r​e​f​=​g​r​e​e​n​&​a​m​p​;​i​r​=​G​r​een).

This is not the first time a Sty­ro­foam ban has been pro­posed. In 2009, the City Coun­cil spon­sored leg­is­la­tion to give tax incen­tives to food ser­vices to switch to more envi­ron­men­tally friendly mate­ri­als; in that case, the res­o­lu­tion did not make it out of committee.

Over one hun­dred other cities have already banned Sty­ro­foam, includ­ing Seat­tle, Port­land, San Fran­cisco, and Los Ange­les. Sim­i­lar steps have been pro­posed for plas­tic bags, which have been banned in San Fran­cisco for sev­eral years.

Photo: Blu­men­pachi