A COALITION of policy organizations has written a letter to the members of the City Council of New York City expressing several concerns with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's call for a ban on polystyrene, a common substance used to make drink and food containers.
Bloomberg's proposal, put forward in his "State of the City" address last month (Feedstuffs, Feb. 25), would specifically ban Styrofoam as an environmental and human health hazard.
The policy groups -- the National Center for Public Policy Research based in New York City, Women for Food Freedom and the Center for Energy & the Environment of the Competitive Enterprise Institute -- emphasized that polystyrene "might not always be the best choice for foodservice items."
However, the groups said a ban could carry several unintended consequences, including what would become decisions to use multiple paper containers for hot drinks and foods. The groups cited one study that found that replacing one foam cup with three paper cups could require 36 times more water for production of the cups, and the paper cups would be more expensive and less likely to be recycled than foam cups.
Polystyrene is recyclable, and recycling it produces a product with several applications, including construction materials and reusable packaging for consumer goods, the groups said.
A ban won't protect the environment and would unnecessarily increase costs for carryout services and charities that feed people, as well as for consumers, the groups said. It would also create more food waste.
The groups noted that Bloomberg has taken several steps to restrict choice, including a ban on large-sized sugar-sweetened drinks that was enjoined by a court last week and a ban on private food donations to city homeless shelters so the city can better monitor the fat and salt content of food being distributed to homeless people.
Bloomberg has also decreed that new mothers in city hospitals must breastfeed their babies unless there is a medical reason not to do so.