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Incoming NYC mayor backs polystyrene ban

By: Jeremy Carroll

November 26, 2013

New York City's incoming mayor Bill de Blasio is no stranger to polystyrene and attempting to stop the use of foam product.

And while he had been mostly silent on the proposal by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the use of food service PS in New York City restaurants, de Blasio told reporters recently that he supported the effort. His office did not return requests for comment from Plastics News, but as lawmakers were preparing to debate the issue on Nov. 25, de Blasio told reporters it was time to end PS use in the city.

"As everyone knows, this is not biodegradable, this is a petroleum-based product that really causes environmental harm," he said during a press conference. "We have better options and better alternatives, and those alternatives will become more plentiful and available and cheaper if cities like New York start turning away from traditional Styrofoam."

With the measure to ban PS for food service still sitting in committee, it's entirely possible de Blasio may have to garner support from a new City Council if he wants a ban to be enacted in 2014.

The incoming mayor backed legislation as a City Council member to end the use of PS in New York City schools. In addition, with several other lawmakers, he also initiated the Stop Polystyrene And Revitalize the Environment (SPARE) pledge in 2010. The pledge was aimed at municipalities and governmental bodies, asking them to end the use of PS.

"New York City and state government should be leading by example and ending their age old dependence on Styrofoam," de Blasio said in a 2010 statement. "Everyday, our city's schools alone discard 850,000 Styrofoam trays, doing tremendous damage to our environment. Hopefully by recruiting elected leaders to join our coalition and pushing legislation on the state and city levels we can make New York completely Styrofoam free."

As a candidate for mayor, de Blasio highlighted both initiatives on his website discussing his record on the environment and sustainability. He also pushed for a zero waste vision for the city moving forward, saying the city needed to increase its recycling rate and establishing waste reduction plans.

He did not specifically mention a PS ban in his platform outline, but did broach a subject that has also been discussed — banning plastics bags — saying more efforts like it would be needed for the city to move zero waste.