New York City is taking another run at expanded polystyrene food service packaging with a new ban slated to take hold later this year.
The city Department of Sanitation is out with another determination that food service EPS "cannot be recycled in a manner that is economically feasible or environmentally effective for New York City," according to a new report.
But an opponent of a ban, Michael Westerfield, corporate director of recycling programs at Dart Container Corp., questioned the move.
“In the words of a great New Yorker Yogi Berra, ‘It's déjà vu all over again' as the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has again issued a baffling declaration determining that Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam cannot be recycled,” he wrote in an email.
He said the latest move is “in direct conflict with both fact and a 2015 NY Supreme Court ruling striking down” a previous city ban on food service EPS.
New York has been an EPS battleground in recent years as Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's Department of Sanitation have had food service EPS in their crosshairs.
EPS backers were able to get a 2015 city ban on EPS overturned in state court, leaving the city administration vowing to return fire at some point.
Well, that point is now with a 44-page report that lays out the city's rationale for banning the material effective Nov. 13.
“No food service establishment, mobile food commissary, or store shall possess, sell, or offer for use single-service articles that consist of expanded polystyrene,” the report states, unless otherwise exempted.
“In addition, no manufacturer or store shall sell or offer for sale polystyrene loose fill packaging,” the report states.
The city will not issue violations until May 14, 2018.
New York maintains that EPS food services items are difficult and uneconomical to recycle, with some municipalities simply throwing the material away once it is removed from other recyclables. The city also maintains the material contaminates other valuable recycling streams.
The city alleges there has been no self-sustaining food service EPS recycling program, without the aid of outside funding, in the last 30 years.
A group called the Restaurant Action Alliance, however, has taken a different view on the matter. That group, along with Dart, was able to successfully block implementation of the initial ban in 2015. The alliance represents restaurant owners in the city. When the 2015 lawsuit was filed, the groups alleged the city made its decision “without a sound basis in reason and generally without regard to the facts.”
Westerfield called the new approach inconsistent with the previous court ruling, “It's wrong for struggling small businesses, restaurants and taxpayers and it will actually make it harder for the City to meet Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC goal of Zero Waste by 2030.” he said in the email.