New Yorkers Back Bloomberg's Foam Ban by More Than 2-to-1

Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 11:45 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Prohibiting the use of plastic foam containers for food and drink in New York City is backed 2-to-1 by residents, according to a poll released on Thursday.

In the Quinnipiac University poll, New Yorkers supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg's latest in a string of bans by 69-26 percent.

Women overall support the ban 70-25 percent, with five percent having no opinion, while men overall supported the proposed ban by a 67-27 margin.

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Republicans were the only dissenting group, with 51 percent of them opposed. In comparison, 77 percent of Democrats favored the ban.

Along racial lines, the poll found that white New Yorkers supported the ban most, 70-25 percent, while black New Yorkers supported it 64-28 percent, and Hispanic New Yorkers supported it 68-26 percent.

The plastic foam ban was initially viewed with skepticism by some, considering that Bloomberg has instituted a series of similar regulations during his three terms as mayor, including a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in excess of 16 ounces and restricting prescription pain killers in emergency rooms of public hospitals.

The ban on plastic foam containers was announced by the mayor during his state of the city speech on Feb. 14, citing environmental and budgetary reason for proposing the new law. A week earlier, perhaps as a trial balloon, he let a recycling official confirm the idea for the news media. The initial mellow reaction was different from some of his previous pronouncements, including the sugary drink ban which Thursday's poll found high levels of opposition.

"Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton because it has to be removed," Bloomberg said. "Something we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, I think, is something we can do without."

The 71-year-old Bloomberg continued, "We'll work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants. And don't worry, the doggy bag and the coffee cup will survive just fine."

The ban will specifically target certain polystyrene foam products, not necessarily Styrofoam, which is a trademarked product of Dow Chemical Co.

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According to the mayor's office, plastic foam presently accounts for an estimated 20,000 tons of the city’s annual waste.

The measure will come up for a vote by the city's council later this year.

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