Bloomberg Seeks Ban on Plastic-Foam Packaging

by | Feb 14, 2013

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New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will propose in his final State of the City address today a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging from stores and restaurants.

Bloomberg also plans to use his final year as mayor to create a curbside food-composting pilot program, encourage more recycling and increase the number of parking spaces for electric vehicles, reported Bloomberg News.

City officials said a plastic-foam ban on products including cups, trays and takeout boxes could save millions of dollars, reported the New York Times. Recycling plastic foam, which is not biodegradable, can cost up to $20 per ton. The major’s office estimated the city’s annual waste stream included about 20,000 tons of plastic foam, reported the Times.

Although this material is commonly referred to as styrofoam, that name is a misnomer, according to Dow Chemical, the company that makes Styrofoam. The company says its product is not used in “disposable foam products, such as cups, coolers, meat trays and packing peanuts.”

New York is not the first city to try to restrict plastic-foam packaging. Similar laws have passed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, reported Bloomberg News.

Ahead of his address, the mayor’s office posted highlights of his 12-year tenure as mayor, including a record reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The city cut emissions by more than 15 percent, or 11 million metric tons, from 2005 levels, according to Bloomberg’s office.

Bloomberg has created a number of green initiatives while in office, including a proposed 6-cent surcharge on plastic shopping bags, legislation that requires commercial establishments to keep their doors closed when operating air-conditioning systems, and a campaign to replace all of the city’s 300,000 streetlamps with LEDs.

Bloomberg also has pushed to encourage the adoption of solar generation by creating three “Solar Empowerment Zones” within the city. Within these zones, the city will provide data monitoring systems, technical assistance and assistance with maneuvering through incentives, streamlining the permitting process.

Bloomberg announced last month a plan to increase the amount of garbage diverted from landfills over the next five years. Targets include increasing from 15 percent to 30 percent the amount of residential and other waste diverted from landfills by 2017, expanding recycling to include all rigid plastics by the summer of 2013, and increasing the number of recycling receptacles in public spaces from 600 to 1,000 by 2014.

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