The ban on foam food containers has been overturned in New York City. The environmental initiative was first proposed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and put into effect in July by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The New York Times reports that, just like Bloomberg’s attempt to ban huge soft drinks, the axing of foam containers failed to hold. The Restaurant Action Alliance, as well as other restaurants and manufacturers, sued the city, suggesting it was possible to recycle the containers — and potentially save the city money by cutting down on landfill additions.
“We disagree with the ruling,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh in a statement. “These products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets and waterways. We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect.” (That toss-away process, by the way, disproportionately harms low-income communities of color.)
Whether the material is actually recyclable is still up for debate. Last December Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia ruled it was not. However, a plan to recycle a greater variety of plastics was put forth by the Dart Container Corporation that would “guarantee that products made from recycled foam containers made their way back into the market,” the Times says.
Despite Dart’s plan, Eric A. Goldstein from the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Times that the court dismissed real evidence that the containers aren’t recyclable.
“There’s not a single major city in the nation that has successfully implemented a recycling program for used polystyrene food containers, and the reason is simple: It doesn’t make economic sense,” Goldstein told the Times.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.