New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday (February 14) proposed a ban on Styrofoam, the substance commonly used for take-out food containers that is al...
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday (February 14) proposed a ban on Styrofoam, the substance commonly used for take-out food containers that is almost impossible to recycle.
The mayor who has already targeted fat, sugar and salt in the city will turn to extruded polystyrene foam, saying it clogs up landfills, does not biodegrade and might harm human health.
"Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 (USD) per ton because it has to be removed.
Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, I think is something we can do without," Bloomberg said in his final State of the City speech.
"And don't worry: the doggie bag and the coffee cup will survive just fine," he added.
Bloomberg, in his 12th year as mayor, has made public health and sustainability hallmarks of his three terms in office, and he has taken aim repeatedly at the fast-food industry - most recently in his controversial plan to ban the sale of large portions of sugary soda, which goes into effect next month.
Styrofoam, he says, should go the way of lead-based paint, which the city banned from residential use in 1960.
An estimated 20,000 tons of Styrofoam enter the city's waste stream each year, and it can add to the cost of recycling because it needs to be removed from the recycling stream, the city said.
Similar bans have been adopted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon.
The plan was likely to meet opposition from small businesses, since alternatives to Styrofoam tend to cost between two and five times as much.
While Bloomberg's aggressive campaigns have won him plaudits from some, others have dubbed him a "nanny" mayor and said his ideas limit choice and pre-empt individual responsibility.
During his first term, he pushed through a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, which, despite an initially rocky reception from New Yorkers, is now enormously popular and has inspired similar bans in cities around the world.
Next up was a ban on trans fats, found in Little Italy cannoli and fast-food french fries, and a dictate that fast-food restaurants post calorie information in large type on menu boards.
Last year, Bloomberg said restaurants and takeaway food shops could no longer sell sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces (47 cl).
Sugar-sweetened drinks are a significant source of extra calories in the U.S.
diet and closely linked with weight gain, which often accompanies serious and costly illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
The soft drinks industry is challenging the ban, which is due to begin in March, calling it an unconstitutional overreach that burdens small businesses and infringes upon personal liberty.