Bloomberg's Bold Ban on Foam Food Packaging

ny_bloomberg_state_of_city_2013 In his final State of the City Address, Mayor Bloomberg proposed a city-wide ban on plastic-foam food packaging and a pilot residential organics composting program in Staten Island. These are the latest steps taken by the City toward meeting its goal of bringing the diversion rate to 30 percent -- double the current rate -- by 2017.

With the proposed ban on foam food packaging, two important questions arise: What alternatives are available? And can these alternatives be recycled?

Since 2009, Global Green USA has worked with our Coalition for Resource Recovery to develop and promote solutions for recycling foodservice packaging into valuable, high-quality materials. In recycling trials with Western Michigan University we've found that many foodservice packaging items can be recycled into valuable new products -- even with some food contamination. Our 2013 efforts will focus on testing the range of replacements for expanded polystyrene, such as molded fiber and micro-flute paper products. Markets for recovered paper are growing stronger as traditional sources of fiber are declining. This makes the transition to paper-based alternatives for expanded polystyrene timely from both an environmental and economic perspective.

Bloomberg called food waste the "final recycling frontier," and stated that if the program in Staten Island succeeds, the City will develop a plan to expand it to residences citywide. The City has initiated a food waste recovery program at 60 public schools. Bloomberg said today that the City plans to take food recycling in schools citywide, stating that "there is no better way to teach the next generation about the importance of recycling than to make it a part of their school day routine."

Acknowledging that the road ahead will not be easy, Bloomberg ended the address by quoting Robert Frost -- "we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep." The announcements today are a milestone on this journey.