Judge overturns New York City ban on plastic foam containers

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A judge has overturned New York City’s ban on Styrofoam.

The city banned all businesses in the five boroughs from using styrofoam containers in July after Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia determined that the packaging can’t be recycled if it is soiled with food.Foam cups, plates, clamshells, coolers, hard-plastic utensils and packing peanuts are no longer banned in New York City, a Manhattan judge ruled on Tuesday, striking down Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first major environmental effort.NEW YORK – The recently approved ban on polystyrene foam was overturned Tuesday, just over two months into a grace period meant to let city businesses ease into the prohibition on foam coffee cups, cheap beach coolers, halal street containers and to-go soup cups.

New York had been the largest city in America to prohibit the sale, possession and distribution of single-use polystyrene foam, threatening violators with steeper fines than those for marijuana offenses. Experts hired by the Restaurant Action Alliance, which sued to overturn the ban, made a persuasive case, she said. “The Commissioner’s concern is not justified given abundant evidence showing a viable and growing market for not just clean EPS (expanded polystyrene foam) but post consumer EPS material,” Chan said. She noted that styrofoam recycling — including the reuse of dirty containers — is “beyond the pilot program stages or still paddling in untested waters.” “We disagree with the ruling.

These products cause real environmental harm and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets, and waterways. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan referred the task of finding recycling solutions to the city’s sanitation department, which referred PIX11 News to City Hall when asked for comment on the matter. They said the ban would place unreasonable burdens on food sellers who would need to use compostable paper containers, which are also more expensive, making your General Tso’s cost more, too. She told The Villager in 2014 businesses would continue to use the foam containers because they are so much cheaper. “It’s so much more expensive to do the right thing,” she told the paper, citing the fact compostable containers cost about 8x as much as foam ones. But earlier this year she told MSNBC that this was not as much of a problem because as more and more business started adhering to the ban, the prices on compostable containers began to drop.

It’s not yet clear whether Chan’s decision will lead to similar action in cities, like Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Portland, where bans remain on the books.

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