Daily Grumble: Styrofoam is bad, but so are its alternatives

New York City has finally banned single-use styrofoam containers. Hurray! Now the restaurant industry needs to innovate a way to save our hands.
Styrofoam keeps things hot or cold better than anything else. But there has to be a more environmentally friendly way to do that.

Styrofoam keeps things hot or cold better than anything else. But there has to be a more environmentally friendly way to do that.

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The ocean is in trouble, and we can all agree that more needs to be done to save a natural resource responsible for recycling our air and providing our food. New York politicians and activists have been fighting to ban one of the worst pollutants, single-use styrofoam containers, since the Bloomberg administration took up the cause in 2013.

 

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio's office finally cleared the last legal hurdle to enact the City Council-approved law. What was the holdup? A recycling program proposed by the Dart Container Company, which a Sanitation Department study proved unworkable.

 

The ban is great news, but now it's the restaurant industry's turn to be innovators. The solutions so far have failed to replicate the best qualities of styrofoam — keeping food and drinks hot or cold — which usually means awkwardly (and often painfully) juggling those coffees or takeout containers.

 

Dunkin' Donuts got ahead of the curve and discontinued its use of styrofoam cups back on May 1, but their flimsy cardboard sleeves do little to keep heat from seeping through their new paper cups. One of my favorite Financial District food trucks, Gyro House, already serves its food in aluminum containers, but the heat is so intense they have to be carried in a plastic bag — another major waste culprit. 

 

So a sincere thanks to Judge Margaret Chan for your leadership on this issue. Now we need food container solutions to keep New Yorkers' hands safe, too.

Metro knows living in New York City is often not as magical as the movies make it seem. Every day, we Grumble about city life, and we'd love to commiserate with you at grumble@metro.us.

 
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