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NYC Introduces Polystyrene Foam Foodservice Ban Despite Mounting Concerns Over Impact to City’s Small Businesses and Taxpayers


Contact: Warren Robinson (202) 249-6516  
Email: Warren_Robinson@americanchemistry.com

Restaurant owners, business leaders gather at City Hall to oppose
proposal that would cost jobs and increase waste

NEW YORK (June 12, 2013) – Local lawmakers in New York City today announced a bill to ban the sale of polystyrene foam foodservice products, a decision which will negatively impact thousands of New York City businesses, as well as millions of local consumers and taxpayers. The proposal, supported by the Bloomberg Administration, has the potential to cost New York City and state nearly $100 million per year and will do little to reduce solid waste.

“A ban in New York City would cost businesses, consumers and taxpayers millions of dollars, as well as threaten jobs in the restaurant industry, in upstate manufacturing plants, and in companies that reuse foam in the greater metropolitan area,” said City Council Member Peter Vallone. “Foam can and should be recycled, and I urge the Mayor to work with the Council to explore this option instead of a ban.”

Local restaurant owners joined business leaders at a press conference this afternoon at City Hall to express concern about the effect of a ban on their businesses and bottom line, and encourage the city to explore a recycling initiative.

“I use foam containers because they’re great at keeping food fresh and because they’re economical,” said Rosemary Nunez, owner of La Nueva Estrella El Castillo Restaurant in Brooklyn. “This is just another example of the Administration trampling on the interests of the people who create jobs in this city.”

With a ban in place, New York restaurants would need to purchase more expensive alternatives which would pressure already squeezed profit margins. In addition, these more expensive products often don’t insulate as well as their foam counterparts for hot drinks, leading to double cupping or the use of a sleeve, which actually raises costs for businesses and increases solid waste. According to a recent study published by MB Public Affairs, for every $1.00 now spent on polystyrene foam foodservice and drink containers, businesses will have to spend at least $1.94 on the alternative replacements, effectively doubling costs.

"Manufacturers throughout upstate New York will suffer significantly with this ill-advised proposal in New York City", said National Federation of Independent Business NY State Director Mike Durant. "Both the Mayor and City Council need to spend more time focusing on sensible solutions to the economic ills of both the City and State rather than promoting unproven and onerous nanny-state mandates such as this."

Beyond the economic impact, polystyrene foam foodservice is lighter and more energy efficient than its most common alternatives—which are also not currently recycled in New York City. A new study completed this month by Moore Recycling Associates on behalf of ACC found that access to polystyrene foam foodservice recycling has expanded much quicker than the recycling of alternative products, and determined that 50 percent of the population of major cities in California have access to foam recycling, compared with 15 percent of those same cities recycling or composting paper-based alternatives. By implementing a foam recycling program, New York would join these other leading cities on the cutting edge of resource recovery, building on the recently announced expansion of recycling in the city.

State officials, including Senator Michael F. Nozzolio and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, have already voiced their concerns, asking the Administration and City Council to rethink a potential ban. These officials have highlighted the negative impacts of a ban on their local businesses and on the 1,200 polystyrene jobs in New York State.     

“A ban in New York City would have an immediate and dire effect on the in-state businesses that supply New York City restaurants and food service establishments with these containers,” said Senator Nozzolio. “This ban will destroy jobs and do nothing to reduce waste. I urge the Mayor and the City Council to explore the option of recycling instead of a ban.”

“This proposal will have adverse impacts that will be felt far outside New York City. A ban on these containers is expensive and will result in the loss of jobs across the state,” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said. “This is bad for business, bad for communities and bad for New York.”

For more information on the impact of a polystyrene foam ban, the potential for recycling and how to get involved, please visit www.putalidonitnyc.com.

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