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Pro-Foam Coalition Sues City to Overturn Ban on Styrofoam Containers

A group of manufacturers, recyclers, and restaurant owners claims the decision was all a sham.

Early this year, Mayor Bill DeBlasio signed off on a law that will ban New York City businesses from using styrofoam takeout containers, set to go into effect July 1. As that date draws near, a coalition of styrofoam manufacturers, restaurant owners, and recycling businesses have banded together to get that decision overturned. They're currently suing the city, claiming that the decision was "arbitrary," and a "sham," made only so that De Blasio could keep promises he made in his campaign.

Before De Blasio approved the ban, foam proponents (mostly from the Dart Container Corporation and the American Chemical Council) were given a year to prove that the material could be easily recycled. When the study was finished, city officials concluded that foam couldn't be recycled. But now representatives from Dart and from multiple recycling businesses claim that foam can be recycled. In the suit, they say that they had been working with the Sanitation Department to develop a plan to recycle both hard and soft foams – dealing with more than the ban, which only applies to soft foams. Dart says it had even committed to privately fund "state-of-the-art equipment" that would be used to do this recycling. Allegedly, the Sanitation Commissioner "was poised to find that ‘foam can be recycled,'" but was ordered by City Hall to ban foam anyways, no matter what her research revealed.

The city has not responded publicly to the suit, and no matter what happens, it will still be some time before foam takeout containers disappear from the city entirely. Even after the ban goes into effect (if it goes into effect), restaurants have until January of 2016 to phase the stuff out before the city actually starts enforcing the law.