NYC versus the mighty Plastic Industry, Styrofoam Banning Legislation in the making

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Big things happened in NYC City Hall.

On Monday, Dec 2nd, a Council Meeting took place discussing the outright banning of Expanded Poly Styrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam. Here is a run down on what happened.

Polystyrene Ban Hearing Overview from Jennifer Prescott:

Deputy Mayor, Cas Halloway’s testimony was clear and substantial. He outlined the comprehensive research that proceeded the conclusion that it is in the City’s best interest to ban Polystyrene. He and Deputy Commissioner Ron Gonan repeatedly stated that over 27 US cities have already done so with no evidence of a downside. The City’s research concluded that there simply isn’t enough of a market for recycled Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and that EPS is not recyclable once it has been contaminated by food. Both assertions were supported by Sims Municipal Recycling general manager, Thomas Outerbridge. EPS manufacturer, DART, testified that they have purposed a working plan to separate the NYC EPS and cart it by rail to their 50 million dollar (yet to be built/retro-fit) Indianapolis-based Plastics Recycling facility, where it will be cleaned and recycled. DART’s plan supported (3) city council member’s opinion’s that EPS should be recycled. Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Diana Reyna, and Robert Jackson all feel that an outright ban will adversely affect small businesses in their districts, primarily small, take-out restaurants and bodegas. Councilman Robert Jackson and Councilwoman Diana Reyna have introduced a bill with Brooklyn to add plastic foam to the city's curbside recycling program. DART, the leading manufacturer of EPS (and $120,000 contributor to the plastics lobby against the ban), testified to the recyclability of EPS and introduced a conspiracy theory suggesting that Ron Gonan has undermined any possibility of recycling the material with SIMS. SIMS GM, Thomas Outerbridge, debunked their assertion by confirming that all correspondence between SIMS and DART were uncorrupted by any outside parties – including the DOS. Councilman Lewis Fidler tore into DART’s arguments and assertions that it is cost effective and feasible to recycle EPS.
The overall concern is that by declaring EPS “recyclable”, without a facility available to clean and handle the material, we are effectively prolonging a landfill destination for unknown years to come. In addition, even if EPS were to be found “recyclable”, NYC’s EPS is primarily food containers that end up in the home or restaurant garbage. Separating it out for recycling would require extra hauling lines for curbside pick-up, costing the City $70 million per year.
As far at the D3 Green Schools Group testimony was concerned, I was heard very late in the proceedings on a panel that included Debby Lee Cohen (Cafeteria Culture).
Lisa Maller drew up a comprehensive testimony that outlined our stance on the proposed City-wide Polystyrene ban (I believe that the testimony was posted to the D3 Green Schools Group list serve last week). I went off-script to add a few comments pertaining to the medical/health consequences (and the troubling lack of testimony regarding health) connected to EPS.

City Council members in attendance:
Maria del Carmen Arroyo Peter F. Vallone, Jr.
Lewis A. Fidler Diana Reyna
Robert Jackson Albert Vann
Letitia James Jessica S. Lappin

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