Manhattan judge strikes down Styrofoam ban

23 Sep 2015


A Manhattan judge Tuesday struck down mayor Bill de Blasio's ban on plastic foam - commonly known as Styrofoam, nipping the administration's environmental initiative that sought to cut waste in the city's landfills, in the bud.

All businesses in the five city boroughs were banned from in July, from using plastic foam containers after sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia determined that the packaging could not be recycled if it was soiled with food.

However, according to experts hired by the Restaurant Action Alliance, that assessment was made no sense and offered enough conflicting evidence to make a judge lift the ban.

''The commissioner's concern is not justified given abundant evidence showing a viable and growing market for not just clean EPS (expanded polystyrene foam) but post consumer EPS material,'' Manhattan Supreme Court justice Margaret Chan ruled.

She noted that plastic foam recycling was ''beyond the pilot program stages or still paddling in untested waters.''

The city might go in appeal against the decision.

''We disagree with the ruling,'' said Ishanee Parikh, a de Blasio spokeswoman.

''These products cause real environmental harm and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets, and waterways. We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect.''

The ban was spearheaded by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg and received the support of mayor de Blasio.

According to official estimates 28,500 tons of dirty plastic foam end up in city landfills every year.

In April, a group of manufacturers, recyclers and restaurants sued to lift the ban arguing the containers could be effectively recycled in a way that saved the city money.

Chan found the city could save $400,000 recycling 40 per cent of the plastic foam it wasted.

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