Starting this summer, New York City food establishments will be banned from using plastic foam containers.
Mayor Bill De Blasio is setting the ban in place by following the suggestion of previous mayor Michael Bloomberg, who suggested banning plastic foam in his final State of the City address, in 2013. San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon have already banned the foam containers; New York is the largest city in the country to do so.
Administration officials predict that the ban will remove close to 30,000 tons of plastic foam, known as polystyrene, material from the city’s streets, waterways, and landfills. De Blasio has stated that these products “have no place in New York City”.
The ban will go into effect July 1st. Any food establishment will not be allowed to use plastic foam cups or containers and packing peanuts will not allowed to be sold within the city. Any nonprofit or business with less than $500,000 in annual revenue could qualify for an exemption from the ban, however they would have to attest that using non-plastic foam materials would create a financial hardship.
There will be a grace period for the ban without fines, until January 2016.
A lobbying group called The Restaurant Action Alliance does not support the decision, claiming that it would increase costs for food establishments. Their suggestion is to focus on creating a plan to recycle the material instead of banning it. They state that banning the polystyrene foam materials only diverts 10 percent of trash to landfills. The remaining 90 percent will be sent to the landfill at the taxpayers’ expense.
What’s your opinion on New York City’s ban? Do you think it will be successful in reducing the amount of trash collected in the city?
On another note, should there be exemptions? Should the city help those who do qualify for exemptions in eliminate the plastic foam material regardless?
If a major city like New York City can successfully implement and monitor a ban like this one, it will lead the way for other large cities in the United States and around the world. Maybe municipalities will begin to reduce their environmental impact through their waste management initiatives, including recycling and using alternative materials.