Could plastic foam containers get knocked off the menu of takeout food options in the nation’s biggest city? A sanitation official said Wednesday the idea is under discussion but it’s too soon to say what will get recommended in an upcoming report on increasing recycling rates.
Polystyrene foam, sometimes sold under the brand name Styrofoam, has long been popular among restaurateurs for lightweight, heat-retaining containers, but environmentalists complain it takes years to break down in trash. Some communities around the country have barred eateries from using to-go containers made of it.
As New York City officials prepare a report on how to double the city’s residential recycling rate, the foam is “one of the things that you have to look at,” Department of Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Ron Gonen said by phone Wednesday.
“It may or may not be a component of the overall plan,” due in a few weeks, said Gonen, who oversees recycling and environmental sustainability initiatives.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year set a goal of recycling 30 percent of the city’s household trash by 2017, up from about 15 percent now. City Hall is “always willing to take a look at new ways to reduce waste that can’t be recycled or reused,” spokesman John McCarthy said Wednesday.
It costs the city an average of $86 per ton to landfill some 2 million tons of garbage a year; by contrast, the city nets a payment of at least $10 a ton for recycling paper and about $14 a ton for recycling glass and plastic, Gonen said.
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