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New Yorkers react to mayor's plastic foam ban push

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm •  Published: February 15, 2013
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The proposed plastic foam ban is the latest in a series of public health initiatives launched by the mayor in his 11-year tenure. Others include banning trans fats from restaurant meals, forcing chain eateries to post calorie counts on menus and limiting the size of some sugary drinks.

Bloomberg, speaking Friday morning on WOR radio, touted both the environmental and economic benefits of banning polystyrene foam.

"Styrofoam, or polystyrene, does not degrade with time. It's just there forever," he said. "And it's not good for you, and it costs us a lot of money. And the stores — most stores have already gone away from it."

Other food containers made from certain types of plastics and paper products are recyclable and already widely used, a mayor's spokeswoman added.

The mayor's proposal would have to be drafted into legislation and passed by the City Council before becoming law.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports it. But a similar proposal has stalled in the City Council in recent years.

Industry groups have already begun to prepare for a bill to surface.

"As the legislative process moves forward, we hope that all parties listen to small businesses like restaurants and take into account how it'll affect them," said Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the city restaurant association.

The American Chemistry Council also noted that polystyrene foam products are cheaper, which could end up saving tax dollars for government agencies that buy them.

Marina Pena, 40, a school counselor from Washington Heights, said she'd prefer to be more eco-friendly, but it's not her decision.

"If I had an option, I'd bring my own containers or get it served on something else, but this is all they give you," said Pena, who bought lunch served in a plastic foam container from a Manhattan food cart. "I know it's bad for the environment. I know you can't recycle it."

Fish Yu, a part-time manager of the popular Chinese restaurant Ollie's on 42nd Street, said his restaurant uses at least 150 plastic foam containers a day.

He said being forced to use alternatives to plastic foam would likely be more expensive.

"If they say so, we'll have to charge it to the customers," he said.

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Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York and Manuel Valdes in Seattle contributed to this report.