ACC Seeks Polystyrene Options in NYC

Plastics group works to counter New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to restrict the use of polystyrene foam in the city.

February 18, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Plastics

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has released a statement saying it is willing to work with New York City to explore the possibilities of developing an effective polystyrene foam recycling program in the city.

The ACC announcement was made in advance of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address in which he called for restrictions on the use of polystyrene foam.

In his address, Bloomberg said, "Now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it's not just terrible for the environment. It's terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed.” (Bloomberg referred to polystyrene by its Dow Chemical-trademarked name of Styrofoam.)

"Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, is something we can do without,” the mayor continued. “So, with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants,” he stated.

Steve Russell, ACC’s vice president of plastics, countered Bloomberg in a statement, saying, “We would welcome the opportunity to explore polystyrene foam food service recycling with the city. The technology exists to recycle polystyrene foam food service right now. California is making this work—22 percent of households there can recycle polystyrene foam food service cups, plates, bowls, clamshells and other containers at curbside.”

Russell’s statement continues, “Polystyrene foam food service products make up less than one percent of our nation's solid waste, according to EPA. They use significantly less energy and water to manufacture than paper alternatives and create significantly less waste by weight and comparable waste by volume.”

Further, the ACC’s Russell commented, “Polystyrene foam food service products are two to five times less expensive than alternatives, which saves the city's agencies a significant amount of tax dollars.”