Published February 14, 2013
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has fought against smoking, big sugary drinks and salty food during his tenure, is setting his sights on a new foe: Styrofoam.
Bloomberg plans to use part of his Thursday State of the City address to push for a ban on Styrofoam food packaging. He also will call for initiatives that would increase the number of parking spaces for electric cars and begin recycling more plastics and food waste
"One product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam ... something that we know is environmentally destructive and that may be hazardous to our health, that is costing taxpayers money and that we can easily do without, and is something that should go the way of lead paint," Bloomberg will say, according to excerpts of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.
He said his administration would work with the City Council to ban Styrofoam food packaging from stores and restaurants.
"We can live without it," he said. "We may live longer without it. And the doggie bag will survive just fine."
Polystyrene foam, sometimes sold under the brand name Styrofoam, makes lightweight, heat-retaining containers, but environmentalists aren't fans because of how long it takes to break down in trash.
Some communities around the country have barred eateries from using to-go containers made of it. A proposal has stalled in the City Council in recent years.
Steve Russell, vice president of the American Chemistry Council, a trade group, said recycling polystyrene was something to look at instead of a ban.
"The technology exists to recycle polystyrene foam foodservice right now," he said, pointing to efforts in California.
Bloomberg also said that the city would install curbside electric vehicle chargers that would let drivers recharge in 30 minutes and that his administration would work with the City Council to change the city's building code so that up to 20 percent of new public parking spaces are wired for electric cars, with the goal of creating 10,000 spaces for electric cars over the next seven years.
"(We'll) make New York City a national leader in electric vehicles," Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, who has made the city's environment a key issue for his administration, also said, "This year, we'll take major new steps toward another important sustainability goal that we've set: doubling the city's recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017."
The administration's efforts to reach that goal include a new recycling plant that will be able to process plastics that couldn't be accepted before and a pilot program on Staten Island that will take food waste from homes and turn it into compost to be used in parks and other spaces.
During Bloomberg's 11-year tenure, the city also has made chain restaurants post calorie counts on their menus and barred artificial trans fats in french fries and other restaurant food. His controversial large soda ban, which was approved by the city's Board of Health in September, takes effect March 12.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.