NYC Would Be First Major East Coast City To Enact Foam Ban

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The future of plastic-foam food containers in takeout-loving New York City is up for debate.

As CBS 2’s Tamara Leitner reported, the City Council’s sanitation committee held a hearing Monday on several proposals to ban the containers and explore recycling them.

The measures backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg would ban foam carryout items, with exceptions for raw meat and prepackaged foodstuffs. However, the proposal also calls for determining first whether the containers can be recycled before instituting any sort of ban.

Both supporters and opponents of the ban rallied outside the hearing, Leitner reported.

Restaurant owners claim foam is cheaper and keeps food warmer, while environmentalists argue foam containers take longer to break down in landfills, Leitner reported.

New Yorkers throw out about 23,000 tons of foam per year. Bloomberg proposed the plastic foam ban in his State of the City speech in February.

“One product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam,” Bloomberg said. “Something that we know is environmentally destructive and that may be hazardous to our health that is costing taxpayers money and that we can easily do without and is something that should go the way of lead paint.”

Lawmakers said the cost to switch from foam to other types of containers could be about 2 cents per cup or container.

“That can add up and have serious impact,” council member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo said.

New York would be the first major East Coast city to enact such a policy. Similar bans have been adopted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.

The council itself wasn’t set to vote on any measures Monday, but the hearing marked an effort to move the issue forward before the year ends.

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