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Originally published November 27 2013

Ban-crazed Bloomberg now pushing to outlaw Styrofoam

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) With a little more than one month left before his final term as mayor comes to an end, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the politician famed for trying (but failing) to ban large sodas, is attempting to get just one more ban in before he heads off into retirement. The New York Post reports that the New York City Council, at the request of Bloomberg himself, is right now considering the last-minute passage of a bill that would prohibit the use and sale of Styrofoam* anywhere in the city.

Deputy Mayor Cas Halloway, who first proposed the ban back in the summer, is reportedly set to testify on behalf of the Bloomberg administration in favor of the ban, which it says will reduce waste and cut pollution. Since Styrofoam does not biodegrade and cannot be recycled using known methods, Bloomberg officials say it is time to eliminate the material altogether, as it ends up constituting some 23,000 tons, or 46 million pounds, of waste every single year -- Styrofoam represents nearly 1 percent of New York's total waste stream.

The ban would cover things like plastic foam cups, which have already been voluntarily phased out by many fast food chains including McDonald's and Arby's. But it would also cover those foam takeout boxes commonly used at restaurants, as well as foam coolers and other similar containers that end up accumulating in landfills -- or worse, getting strewn about on the streets, in public parks and in waterways like rivers and lakes.

"When polystyrene foam is used for food service it becomes a devastating pollutant that infects our parks and waterways while never biodegrading and has been classified a carcinogenic health hazard by the National Institute of Health," said Jake Goldman, a Bloomberg spokesman, in a statement.

Local business owners object, say Styrofoam ban will trample rights

Not everyone is fond of the idea, however, including Rosemary Nunez, owner of La Nueva Estrella El Castillo, a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. She says Styrofoam is essential to running her business, as it helps preserve food and is cost effective, which translates into lower prices for her customers. The American Chemistry Council (ACA), which represents Styrofoam's manufacturers, is also obviously opposed to the ban.

"I use foam containers because they're great at keeping food fresh and because they're economical," she is quoted as saying. "This is just another example of the administration trampling on the interests of the people who create jobs in this city."

But advocates say the ban is a no-brainer, even though it could lead to slightly higher costs for consumers. Brooklyn Councilman Lew Fidler, who is supported by Speaker Christine Quinn and Letitia James, the Public Advocate-elect who chairs the Council's sanitation panel, actually introduced the bill himself on behalf of Bloomberg. And Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is reportedly on board with the proposal as well, having publicly advocated for a similar measure back in 2010.

"I'm not a toadie for the mayor, but when he's right, he's right," says Fidler. "Let's get this done."

If passed, the bill could affect the 1,215 New York City-based employees who are said to work in the Styrofoam industry. The ACA also estimates that the total costs associated with replacing all Styrofoam cups and trays with viable alternatives will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $91.3 million, which of course would be distributed widely among New York City's many thousands of businesses that still use Styrofoam containers.

Sources for this article include:

* Editor's note: Usage of the word "Styrofoam" in this article refers to
expanded polystyrene foam used in everyday products, not the trademarked product owned by the Dow Chemical Company.

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