The City Council is considering legislation that would ban styrofoam cups and other take-out containers in New York City.
The Council is currently looking at at least three separate foam-related bills, one of which would require that all take-out containers from shops and restaurants be made of recyclable material.
A second bill would mandate a pilot foam recycling project; and a third, would ban foam cups and other take-out containers outright by July, 2015. The ban would be put in place, the legislation said, if the city found that foam could not be recycled in a manner that was “environmentally responsible, economically practical, [and] safe for employees”.
That bill, 1060A, would forbid food establishments from offering “single-service articles” made from polystyrene, such as cups, plates, cutlery, and containers. Stores would also be forbidden from offering foam packing peanuts.
The legislation has the support of Council Member and Public Advocate-elect Letitia James, who chairs the Council’s Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee.
WNYC reported that the Committee held a public hearing on the pending legislation yesterday which drew both supporters and opponents of a ban.
The alternative to a ban on foam -recycling- may or may not be feasible. If feasible, it could involve trucking the foam containers out of the city. Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee Counsel Jarrett Hova said that two major challenges would be sorting light-weight, foam-based products for recycling, and finding a cost-effective market for the material.
While polystyrene represents less than one-percent of New York City’s household plastics waste stream, according to a 2004 analysis, Hova said that there were other considerations. Hova noted that advocates for a ban have raised both public health and environmental concerns about the use of polystyrene.
The Council has not yet confirmed whether votes on the three pending bills will take place by the end of 2013.