Win! New York City bans Styrofoam

polystyrene
CC BY 2.0 Rhys Asplundh

New York's City Council voted unanimously to ban the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers yesterday. New York is now the largest U.S. city to implement such a ban on single-use foam containers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill into law before leaving office at the end of the year. NBC New York reports that Bloomberg supports the ban:

"Foam pollutes the waste stream, making it harder to recycle food waste as well as metal glass and plastic," the mayor said in a statement after the vote.

New Yorkers throw away 23,000 tons of polystyrene per year.

NY Daily New reports that Speaker Christine Quinn is also in support of getting rid of polystyrene:

“Most foam ends up in landfills where it can sit for literally 500 years or longer,” Quinn said. “The only thing in the world that lives longer than cockroaches or Cher is styrofoam.”

Environmental groups applaud the bill. "This is a tremendous decision, and grand victory for us all. Future generations will see this as the obvious choice," said Christopher Chin, Executive Director of the Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education. "But this vote today makes a strong stand and proves that New York is truly ready to make a difference."

The ban will take effect in a year, unless industry makers can prove Styrofoam can be recycled--something that has not successfully been done by any municipality. “They’ll have another year to show that, in my view, what is up is really down, but I don’t believe they’re going to be able to do that,” Councilman Lew Fidler, the bill’s sponsor, told the Daily News.

The council also voted in a commercial composting program for large restaurants and grocery stores at Thursday's meeting.

Tags: New York City | Waste

Best of TreeHugger