BROOKLYN, NY -- In his final State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will propose a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging, a non-biodegradable polymer environmentalists have derided for years.
As reported by The New York Times, the ban will include takeout boxes, cups and trays, forcing restaurants and bodegas to restock.
“We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine,” said Bloomberg in excerpts from his speech released on Wednesday.
Additionally, public schools would be instructed to remove plastic-foam trays from their cafeterias, the paper reported.
City officials are saying that curtailing an annual waste stream of about 20,000 tons of plastic foam could save up to $20 per ton in recycling costs equaling millions of dollars per year.
But small business owners disagree, saying the costs to use alternative packaging will hurt profits.
"I think Mayor Bloomberg is trying to make an impact, but it's going to hurt the economy ultimately," said Jamar White, owner of Buffalo Boss on Fulton Street.
"He's imposing, I think, an unfair burden on small business like myself who depend on inexpensive packaging that can do the job," White continued. "I understand it's a great political move, like reducing cup sizes, but I think he's being unduly unfair on small businesses."
If the ban passes, Buffalo Boss would have to switch from styrofoam containers to more costly paper packages, which White said would have an adverse impact on the business.
"We'd have to switch over to paper packages, which is typically four to five times the cost of styrofoam," he said "We do [use] recycled styrofoam [containers], but I think he's targeting it all."
He said making the switch to paper from plastic would take approximatley two weeks, but he's already begun shopping around for the more expensive alternative.
"I've been looking into manufacturers," he said.
Under the mayor's administration, the percentage of waste recycled by the city has fallen from 23 percent in 2001, to 15 percent today.
In his speech, the mayor also will pledge to install 1,000 recycling containers on sidewalks, effectively doubling the current number.