New York is the latest US city to ban polystyrene food containers, joining Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Washington DC.
As New York confirmed the ban, markets for alternative food packaging received a huge boost. Alternatively, polystyrene recycling companies and manufacturers of the lightweight plastic are unhappy that their lobbying came to no avail.
The decision to ban polystyrene containers is ultimately a sensible one, with the quantity and quality of the material making it impossible to perform polystyrene recycling efficiently. The market for curbside polystyrene recycling is now almost non-existent in the city and so alternatives must be sought after. Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said “While much of the waste we produce can be recycled or reused, polystyrene foam is not one of those material”.
It’s not only food containers that will have to seek an alternative to polystyrene; packing peanuts can no longer be made from polystyrene. Perhaps they could try using popcorn, like this business.
It must be noted that this decision to ban polystyrene food containers by NYC is not because they don’t have the ability to recycle it, it’s because after recycling it, it has no sell-on value. This is why the ban makes economic sense, though it will only anger polystyrene recycling companies who say that they could save landfill space and money by recycling at curbside.
The city claim to have collected 28,500 tonnes of polystyrene in 2014 and think that 90% of this was single-use cups, trays and containers, most of which would have been classed as contaminated.