News & Politics

Mayor Bloomberg’s New Public Health Target: Styrofoam


In more ways than one, no one should really like Styrofoam. It has the half-life of most nuclear substances; it doesn’t really keep your coffee that hot; it litters the streets of our beloved city; and, most importantly, it indirectly costs you money. How? Landfills.

Last week, the Sanitation Department requested a citywide ban on the material all together solely for the final reason. Besides the environmental aspects, the Department argued that the spongey substance is costing them bills to keep in landfills; all of which are filled to the brim. The legislation would target businesses that sell Styrofoam like hot cakes (read: Dunkin’ Donuts) and put the responsibility of paying for its waste removal in the hands of the owners.

Also, it’s not the first of its kind. The ban has been proposed to the City Council before but to no avail — mostly because of the apparent economic strain it would potentially have on businesses.

However, the other day, the ban received a huge boost from a man who’s never shy about his agenda: Mr. Michael R. Bloomberg.

If we follow his public health moves, most notably the one to outlaw Big Gulps and other over-the-top beverage sizes, the support for the ban from the Mayor makes sense. A decent portion of these products come in Styrofoam and a few other cities already have a similar ban in place — a facet that usually makes the Mayor hurry up his pace. Also, in terms of environmental and economic reasons, the ban has its weight:

“If we could recycle a lot of stuff, it would be much better for the environment and better for our bottom line. And we’re looking at a lot of things. One of the things you might want to do — and a lot of other places have — is ban things like Styrofoam that don’t … degrade quickly in landfills.”

It remains to be seen what impact the mayoral support will have on the pending proposal. It also remains to be seen if, like with the big soda ban, there’s a hidden sect of New Yorkers who will fight for their right to use Styrofoam.

If there is, we give up.

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