Infrastructure & Environment

Bloomberg Battles Plastic To-Go Containers in His Final Days

December 9, 2013
 

He has battled the tobacco, taxicab and soda industries. Now, in his last days in office, one of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s final showdowns is with makers of plastic-foam food containers.

While the administration has been pressing the City Council to ban packaging like foam cups and foam takeout food containers from stores and restaurants, Dart Container Corporation, one of the largest makers of such products, has been pushing back, arguing that contrary to what the mayor says, their products can be recycled after they have been used. The company is even offering a kind of guarantee.

In his state of the city address in February, Mayor Bloomberg said that foam food containers, which are made from expanded polystyrene, are “virtually impossible to recycle.” Environmental groups have long complained that because the foam does not biodegrade, it fills up landfills, and cities including Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Seattle have already banned them.

The proposed ban, which has been amended to give foam makers a year to prove that soiled containers can be recycled, is likely to come up for a vote before the end of the year. While the ban would affect only the city, the stakes are much higher because many of Mr. Bloomberg’s health and environmental policies have gone on to be adopted by other cities and states.

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