Opposition from packaging manufacturers and the foodservice sector is growing to mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg's proposals to ban polystyrene food packaging in the city.
Bloomberg made the proposal in his State of the City address in Brooklyn in February in a bid to cut down on waste.
But opponents are claiming the move would lead to the loss of 1,200 local jobs, as a lot of polystyrene packaging, commonly referred to in the US as styrofoam, is made close to commercial users of it.
Consequently New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio and Assembly minority leader Brian Kolb have written to Bloomberg and the city council urging them to reconsider. The largest polystyrene packaging manufacturer, which employs over 1,000 New Yorkers, is located in Senator Nozzolio and Assemblyman Kolb’s district.
'Immediate and dire effect'
“A ban in New York City would have an immediate and dire effect on the in-state businesses that supply New York City restaurants and food service establishments with these containers,” said Senator Nozzolio.
“This ban will not only harm businesses and consumers in Mayor Bloomberg’s backyard – it will also destroy jobs in mine. I urge the Mayor and the City Council to explore the option of recycling instead of a ban.”
The letter comes after the release of an economic impact study which shows the proposed ban will cost New York City and State’s businesses, consumers, agencies and tax payers nearly $500m annually.
'Would be devastating'
“The impact of a ban on polystyrene foam in New York City would be devastating for localities across the state – especially in my district, where manufacturing is an economic engine,” leader Kolb said.
“At a time when New York still faces steep fiscal challenges, we cannot afford to introduce measures that eliminate jobs, increase regulatory hurdles and drive expenses up for taxpayers. I encourage the Mayor and City Council to consider alternatives that would preserve jobs and maintain financial stability in our communities.”
In addition, critics of the ban claim the next alternative to polystyrene packaging, paper, does not recycle and insulates badly, leading to using greater amounts for hot drinks and thus more cost and waste.
“The Business Council believes that a ban on the product is unjustified and will adversely affect not only those who use the products daily but also the many others whom produce polystyrene products,” said Heather Briccetti, president and chief executive of The Business Council of New York State.
National Federation of Independent Business/NY State director Mike Durant added: “The state’s economy is influenced very heavily by what happens in New York City and this ban will have a direct effect on suppliers, wholesalers and retailers far beyond the city limits.
Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York president Randy Wolken said: "While we appreciate Mayor Bloomberg's concern for promoting an environmentally-conscience city, an outright ban on polystyrene foam is not the way to do so.
"A ban of polystyrene foam is going to have an adverse effect on the economy immediately, to include putting hundreds of upstate manufacturing jobs at risk.
"Instead we urge Mayor Bloomberg to implement recycling of this environmentally friendly and recycle-friendly product, and in turn allow family-supporting jobs to remain in New York State and continue to support our State's economy."