New York City is getting significant push back from more than 1,000 restaurant owners over the city's move to ban expanded polystyrene foam food-service products.
The business owners, through the Restaurant Action Alliance, are backing a petition that calls for Mayor Bill de Blasio to reverse his ban on the products, which technically started July 1. New York, however, is not enforcing the ban until Jan. 1.
“The Restaurant Action Alliance believes steadfastly that the City's decision to ban foam was based not on evidence or fact, but on fulfilling political agendas,” alliance leader Robert Jackson said in a statement. He is a former City Council member.
“Foam is 100 percent recyclable and there is a robust national market for recycling the takeout cups and containers tens of thousands of New Yorkers use every day,” he said in the statement. “Denying foam's recyclability is like denying the sky is blue. It just doesn't make sense.”
New York City officials in support of the ban excoriated EPS food-service products when they announced the ban earlier this year.
“These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City,” de Blasio said at that time.
But there's been plenty of push-back from EPS and food-service manufacturers, and the city has been sued by the alliance and foam products maker Dart Container Corp. over the issue.
A 2013 poll of New York City residents, however, shows support for a ban among a majority of those who were asked about the issue.
Quinnipiac University pollsters found that 69 percent of the respondents supported a foam ban for food and drink containers while 26 percent were against the idea.
Support was highest for those making $100,000 or more, at 81 percent, and highest among those living in Manhattan, at 78 percent. The lowest support, 64 percent, was for people making less than $50,000 per year and those living on Staten Island, 57 percent, the university reported.
Small businesses and non-profit groups with less than $500,000 in annual sales can apply for what the city is calling “hardship exceptions,” the city indicated earlier this year.
But the restaurant group said small restaurant owners will be hit the hardest as other carry-out packaging cost more than double the price of foam. The group claims the ban will raise prices, cost jobs and potentially cause business closures.