Dart Container Corp., embroiled with New York City's administration over the idea of banning certain expanded polystyrene products, is trying a different tack to jump start discussions with the mayor.
But the mayor's office doesn't think much of the idea.
The Mason, Mich.-based company is out with a nearly 3-minute video aimed directly at Mayor Bill de Blasio to make a case for expanded polystyrene recycling in the city.
Release of the video comes just about a month after a Manhattan Supreme Court judge overturned the city's EPS ban of single-serve foodservice items.
“It's really not a political move there or anything like that. We're trying to reach the mayor. We've tried other means and haven't been successful,” said Michael Westerfield, corporate director of recycling programs at Dart.
Claiming EPS is not recyclable, the city administration decided earlier this year to ban use of the material. Dart responded by successfully suing, and Judge Margaret Chan ruled the material is, indeed, recyclable.
Since then, Dart has tried to engage the mayor only to repeatedly hear from staff members that the administration is still going to pursue a ban on the material, Westerfield said.
Provided with a link to the video, the mayor's office, through spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh, had this to say:
“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. We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect,” Parikh said in an email response Oct. 21.
That's identical language that the mayor's office used a month ago when the ban was overturned.
Dart, once again through the video, is laying out its proposal to fund recycling of all polystyrene, not just the expanded variety, in the city. It's an offer that's been pushed aside before.
“Mayor de Blasio you and I agree it is preferable not to landfill food service packaging, whether it's made from foam or other materials. However, your administration decided that banning rather than recycling foam food service items is the way to reach that goal,” said Dart President Jim Lammers in the video. “On that we disagree.”
Dart has valued its PS recycling offer at $23 million, including the purchase of equipment and the guarantee of a market for polystyrene, both expanded foam products and rigid PS. The company now has added an educational aspect.
“The offer is essentially the same, however, we've added that we will also promote the program. We will work with the administration to make sure the public is aware of it and starts recycling it,” Westerfield said. “We want the city to embrace it.”
The stakes are high in this dispute as decisions made in New York could have influence on how communities around the country tackle EPS use and recycling. “It's the largest city in the country, why wouldn't we want to pursue it?” Westerfield said.
Dart, as a well-known maker of EPS products, has plenty of skin in the game.
“We've got a lot invested in New York City and this process, and for us to walk away now just doesn't make sense,” Westerfield said. “It just doesn't make sense on any level for us to walk away.
“We're still working with other cities as well. Foam recycling will continue to grow regardless of what New York City does, but it's a great opportunity for us,” he said.
Lammers, in the video, addresses the mayor directly.
“Mayor de Blasio, let's show the nation that industry and the public sector can work together for the common good and advance your efforts to establish New York City as a leader of enlightened recycling programs that reduce our dependence on landfills,” Lammers said in the video.
“New York has everything to gain by embracing polystyrene recycling. Less polystyrene will be landfilled so the environment wins. There will be fewer landfill expenditures, so more taxpayer money will be in the city's coffers to fund police and other crucial needs,” Lammers said in the video. “And small business owners who operate on tight margins will be spared the added expense of more costly replacement items, so they win, too.”
The ban was originally set for July 1 with enforcement starting Jan. 1, 2016, following a six-month grace period.