What is in this article?:
- Restaurant industry weighs in on proposed plastic-foam ban
- Operators seek cost-effective alternative
Industry associations and operators question the possible financial and environmental impact of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal.
The New York City restaurant community once again found itself facing a potential new regulation when Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared in his recent State of the City address that he intends to introduce a measure that would ban the use of plastic-foam food packaging.
The proposed ban, which is expected to include cups, takeout boxes and trays, would force operators throughout the five boroughs who currently use such nonbiodegradable material to switch to potentially more environmentally friendly but expensive items, observers say.
If implemented by the City Council, New York would join such cities as San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle that already have such bans in place.
The New York Times said New York’s annual waste stream includes some 20,000 tons of plastic foam.
Andrew Moesel, spokesperson for the New York State Restaurant Association, said while he has yet to see the actual proposal, he hopes that City Council members “keep in mind both environmental concerns as well the costs to small businesses.”
Plastic foam, he noted, “is clearly the cheapest option. Typical Styrofoam containers cost about seven to eight cents each in bulk; comparable paper products are about 15 cents each.”
Costs for higher-grade plastic or biodegradable containers can run as high as 45 cents per container, he added.
Moesel also voiced concerns about who would be included under the proposed ban, whether there would be any incentives to help offset the costs, what shape enforcement would take and whether there would be a fine.
The National Restaurant Association also weighed in on the proposed ban, saying in a statement that while it supports the increased use of sustainable packaging, it would like to work with the city to develop “a plan that is feasible for the industry to implement and cost-effective for operators and consumers.”
Scott DeFife, the NRA’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs, also noted that in some cases, “a suitable supply of alternatives to polystyrene foam packaging does not exist or is prohibitively expensive to obtain. This could create a great burden for restaurants, more than 90 percent of which are small businesses, if those concerns are not addressed as the city moves forward.”