The Big Apple’s new “Recycle Everything” campaign is off to a rocky start as restaurant owners in the metropolis protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging.
The foam ban was formally submitted to New York's City Council in June 2013, in part due to EPS' relatively high costs of collection and recycling, and its potential impacts on the environment.
The Restaurant Action Alliance NYC is challenging the proposal due to what it says is the high cost of switching to an alternative container, a move it said could put some of its 1,000 members out of business.
The Alliance wants to see more discussion around ways of improving recycling options for the foam food containers. It has started a movement called ‘Put a Lid on it NYC’.
In a March 2013 report, the Alliance said that “this level translates into an effective minimum average cost increase of 94 per cent. In other words, for every $1.00 now spent on plastic foam foodservice and drink containers, NYC consumers and businesses will have to spend at least $1.94 on the alternative replacements, effectively doubling the cost to businesses. This 94 per cent is in effect an ‘environmental tax’ far higher than any current sales tax or import duty rates affecting the cost of consumer products.”
When Bloomberg discussed the ban in February 2013, he said, "now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it's not just terrible for the environment. It's terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per tonne, because it has to be removed.”
At present, New York City diverts just 15 per cent of its waste stream, with an estimated 8 million tonnes of solid waste landfilled each year.
Mayor Bloomberg recently introduced its “Recycle Everything” campaign, which includes a number of recycling-related goals and program expansions such as increasing the city's overall recycling rate and expanding the city's growing composting program.