Bloomberg sets sights on EPS

Bloomberg sets sights on EPS

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg put expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging in his crosshairs during his final State of the City address this week.

Saying it should go the way of lead paint, Bloomberg hopes to join other U.S. cities, many of them on the West Coast, that have banned EPS packaging, which is often derided by environmentalists for being difficult to recycle and a persistent source of litter.

"We can live without it. We may live longer without it." said Bloomberg, according to an account in The Associated Press.

During his long tenure as mayor of NYC, Bloomberg has focused on making the city healthier and more sustainable. Last year he set a goal of doubling the amount of waste the city diverts from landfills by 2017.

The New York Times reports that the city handles 20,000 tons of EPS material annually. The proposed ban would include takeout boxes, cups and trays, reports the Times, and would extend to public schools, restaurants and bodegas. The measure would need to pass City Council, and the Times reports that it has a chance of passing.

The plastics industry responded with a call for increased recycling of the material.

"We would welcome the opportunity to explore polystyrene foam foodservice recycling with the City," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics at The American Chemistry Council, in a statement.

Technology exists to recycle polystyrene foam. In California, 22 percent of households can recycle the foodservice cups, plates, bowls and clamshells made from the material as part of their curbside recycling service, and the ACC claimed there is no significant commercial recycling of paper cups and plates. Additionally, the organization stated that polystyrene foodservice products make up less than 1 percent of the country's solid waste stream.

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