Weighing a Styrofoam Ban

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chris Bonanos, senior editor at New York Magazine, looks at the pros and cons of a proposal from Mayor Bloomberg to ban polystyrene packaging -- generally referred to as styrofoam -- from New York City.


Chris Bonanos

Comments [19]

Marc N from Paris

There is no such ban on styrene foam in Paris.

Mar. 22 2013 05:03 AM
Margaret from UWS Manhattan

Re. valuing comparative factors: the most valid factor to consider is, which material takes resources form the Earth, and doesn't turn back into earth when discarded? Period. Thanks to Geo Nalugala - I was just about to look up whether the vegetable-based foam is compostable.

Feb. 15 2013 03:14 PM
Geo Nalugala from Nairobi, Kenya.

The use of Styrofoam for packaging in transportation of fragile commodities can be replaced by using fungal mycelium grown in the factory, using agricultural husks and stalks wastes. Grown in under a week, each of the outcomes, whether cups, trays, table-tops, or even room-partitioning, is easily compostible - precisely the way nature has recycled leaves and husks ever since life began.

Feb. 15 2013 12:08 PM
Alan Schaefer from Woodbridge, NJ

I'm a bit confused in that I remember reading polystyrene is highly recyclable. Here in Middlesex County, NJ, all plastic products that have a recycling number on them can go into the mixed recycling stream. That includes coffee cups, meat trays, & to-go containers.

Feb. 15 2013 12:07 PM
Bassett from Chappaqua

Styrofoam is toxic. It should be nowhere near food !!! How could Brian not know this.

Feb. 15 2013 12:02 PM

I frequently HATE MB but, I have to hand it to him for his forward green thinking and...ACTION.

Let's not keep "perfect" from moving us forward!!

Feb. 15 2013 11:41 AM

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

William McDonough & Michael Braungart

Brian, get these guys on!!!

Feb. 15 2013 11:39 AM
Mick from Inwood

Paper cups break down chemically in the environment. Foam styrene does not and as it break down physically into small pieces that are ingested and kill marine animals, in addition to leaching toxic chemicals. I think Mr. Bonanos is looking for publicity by promoting a counter-intuitive position. The ban can only include what the mayor can control, like city purchases and food distribution channels covered by Dept of health

Feb. 15 2013 11:38 AM
Jose from Queens

In India they serve drinks in low-fired clay cups that break back down into soil, and their disposable plates are made of pressed dried leaves. Why can't we imitate that??

Feb. 15 2013 11:37 AM
J.D. from dt Manhattan

Banana republic strongman Generalissimo Mayor-for-as-long-as-I-wanna-be has publicly wiped his tired, withered butt with the US Constitution long enough. We hope nothing changes the fact that he is in his lame duck period and will soon be gone. His autocratic overreachings should henceforth be ignored, with great condescension. Buh-bye.

Feb. 15 2013 11:36 AM

Will this affect the package tray meats found in supermarkets, eventually?

Feb. 15 2013 11:36 AM
John A

So then McDonald's makes their coffee-cup half foam, half paper, so it can't be recycled anywhere -?

Feb. 15 2013 11:35 AM

Hey!! DumAss!!!

How 'bout the third option: The safe, compostable selection that maybe doesn't exist...YET!!


Demand something BETTER!!

Feb. 15 2013 11:35 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I thought making (i.e., the manufacturing process itself) polystyrene foam had serious environmental impacts beyond toxicity to workers.

Is there any reason paper cups can't be recycled? Certainly they can be made from recycled/unbleached paper.

Feb. 15 2013 11:35 AM

tastes gross too
i vote for foil wrap or plates
then recycle

Feb. 15 2013 11:32 AM
carolita from nyc

Great idea. There's no reason for styrofoam to exist. The packing peanuts should also be banned in favor of biodegradable plastic bubble wrap. I've got no pity for foam cups ever since I tried to drink a little tequila out of one with my buds at the office, and found that it was melting. And that I'd drunk melted foam cup along with my tequila. Yuck.

Feb. 15 2013 11:31 AM
Debby Lee Cohen, director of Cafeteria Culture from Manhattan

NYC, the largest school district in the US, has beens serving 860,000 school meals per day on polystyrene (aka styrofoam) trays, adding up to 3 BILLION styro trays over the past 20 years that have been sent to landfills and incinerators. Since the closing of Fresh Kills Landfill, after a trip with the rest of our trash to waste sorting stations located primarily in low-income neighborhoods!, these polystyrene lunch trays are exported OUT-OF-STATE. The cost for exporting our trash has doubled in the past 10 years!

NYC Department of Education Schools are not held accounatble for the disposal costs of school trash, including the 3 billion trays thrown "away" for 20 years.

Two weeks ago, School Food directors from NYC, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Orlando announced an alliance to co-purchase alternatives to polystyrene trays and certain food items to drive down cost and improve quality. Bravo to NYC School Food directors who initiated this partnership!

The message we teach our children in school, to reduce and recycle, must be consistent within the entire school day and at HOME!

Feb. 15 2013 11:29 AM
Stephanie from Astoria

Styrofoam products, especially for use with hot liquids is suspected of being seriously toxic. I will not consume anything served on it. Isn't that what public school lunch trays are made of?

Feb. 15 2013 10:34 AM
Hugh Sansom

Isn't it interesting how so many of Michael Bloomberg's proposed regulations disproportionately impact the middle class and poor in New York? No millionaire's tax. But bans on soda, styrofoam, etc. Bloomberg could ban individual's have more than 1000 square feet of personal living space โ€” free up residential space for all of us who are crammed 3 or 4 to 500 square feet. He could ban the gas-guzzling monster vehicles that the wealthy like.

Feb. 15 2013 09:53 AM

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