News reports indicate that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may propose restrictions on the use of polystyrene foam foodservice products in New York City, ostensibly as a way to increase recycling rates. American Chemistry Council (ACC) vice president of plastics Steve Russell issued the following statement:
"We would welcome the opportunity to explore polystyrene foam foodservice recycling with the City.
The technology exists to recycle polystyrene foam foodservice right now. California is making this work-22 percent of households there can recycle polystyrene foam foodservice cups, plates, bowls, clamshells and other containers at curbside (that's more than eight million people). Similar programs don't exist for other takeout foodservice.
"Many people mistakenly believe that paper cups and plates are being recycled-however, there is no significant commercial recycling of these products.
"Many people also mistakenly believe that paper cups and plates rapidly degrade in landfills. But modern landfills actually are designed to minimize the breakdown of waste, so contrary to popular public belief, most garbage does not readily biodegrade in them. Garbage essentially is entombed without the air, water and sunlight necessary to support the biological processes that help break down materials. Scientists have uncovered copies of National Geographic, legible newspapers and even whole carrots that have been buried in landfills for decades. Landfills are not compost piles.
"Polystyrene foam foodservice 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.
"Polystyrene foam foodservice products are two to five times less expensive than alternatives, which saves the City's agencies a significant amount of tax dollars.
"Polystyrene foam and other plastic foodservice products are affordable, convenient, sanitary and sturdy-they stand up to greasy chili, keep our hot drinks hot without scalding our hands and keep our food fresher and ready to eat. As more of us are eating and drinking far from home-at a daughter's ball game, while driving to work, at church picnics, on the street corner-they help make possible the way we eat and live today."
For more information on polystyrene foam foodservice products and recycling, visit: www.plasticfoodservicefacts.org.