Our Take

Musings on the Foodservice Industry

Polystyrene Foam: R.I.P. 2015

Jan 20 2015

The end is near for polystyrene foam food packaging. Cities and counties across the country have implemented unilateral bans, but the game changed last week: New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio, announced that Styrofoam packaging and drink containers will be banned starting July 1. 

Other cities – including Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and almost 100 other Californian municipalities – have already banned Styrofoam, but New York is well … New York.  

Now, the nation’s no. 1 city – in population and influence – has forbidden restaurants, stores and manufacturers from using or selling polystyrene foam. Styrofoam1

In announcing the ban, Mayor De Blasio asked the rest of the country to follow New York’s lead: “We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less.” 

Arguably, the new law in New York will have a major influence over container and packaging manufacturers, as well as major restaurant chains. This may be the tipping point when all parties start the nationwide changeover from foam products to compostables and recycled papers. 

For example, the omnipresent Dunkin’ Donuts was one of the first major chains to announce that they will begin phasing out Styrofoam cups and containers and switch to more sustainable alternatives. 

Approximately 2.5 million tons of polystyrene foam is taken to landfills every year. It’s non-recyclable and non-biodegradable and a major source of water pollution. The foam, especially when it breaks down into small pieces, is eaten by fish and birds and clutters storm drains. By banning foam, local governments are trying to reduce their clean-up and landfill costs and protect its citizens. Polystyrene foam, which is made from crude oil, has been shown to leach into food and drinks and may cause cancer. 

It’s been a slow and arduous journey by environmentalists, but all the hard work is finally paying off. To paraphrase, the late great Frank Sinatra: If you can make it work there, you can make it work everywhere … New York, New York!

originally published – http://bridge-gate.com/2015/01/polystyrene-foam-r-i-p-2015/