Plastic foam containers, used for takeout food for everything from ribs to fried rice, could be banned from the menu in New York City. Officials in the nation's largest city say they are considering joining dozens of other cities and towns in banning the containers, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The ban would apply to polystyrene foam, sometimes sold under the brand name Styrofoam. It would prohibit using containers or cups made from the material in restaurants, coffee shops and other eateries.
New York officials emphasize that no decision has been made yet. They are considering the Styrofoam ban as part of an upcoming report on increasing the city's recycling rates. New York Department of Sanitation Sustainability Director Ron Gonen, dubbed the city's " czar," said earlier this week that he was considering the ban, according to Plastics News.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has set a goal of increasing the city's recycling rate from about 15 percent of household trash to 30 percent by 2017. Recycling reducesin landfills, where the city stores about 2 million tons of garbage a year.
Restaurants have long used polystyrene foam as lightweight, temperature-retaining containers, but environmentalists say the material takes years to break down in trash. They say banning the foam products would keep them out of landfills, but opponents say it is overreaching and burdens an already struggling food industry.
Municipalities across the county have banned foam containers, including Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Issaquah, Wash.; and Brookline, Mass. In addition, more than 50 cities and towns in California have enacted similar bans.