Today we see where a progressive, left wing government once again misses the mark and resorts to harmful, top down heavy handedness rather than support free market opportunities. In this instance, it’s a decree by the New York City government banning polystyrene food containers from the city.
First, DeBlasio’s administration is incorrect in stating that polystyrene is not recyclable. This is just a blatant lie and falsehood being spread to justify their big government actions. Los Angeles and roughly 65 other US cites currently have polystyrene recycling programs in operation today. Businesses such a StyroMelt, StyroRecycle, Dart Container’s Care program, and others that provide polystyrene recycling services/products to both industry and cities where desired. In fact, the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (wait, there is an Alliance for something that supposedly can't be done??) states that in 2006 alone, over 56 million pounds of EPS (expanded polystyrene) were recycled, emphasizing that this is an astonishing number due to the fact that EPS is 98% air.
Mike Levy, Senior Director for the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group states that "there are nearly 140 companies that process or use the plastic material [EPS] in the US and Canada." and that "A US maker of foam foodservice packaging even offered to help New York expand it's recycling program to include the foam packaging by providing a guaranteed market for the material." All of this was being offered at no cost to the city! Again, how is that even possible for something that know it all DeBlasio says isn't even possible to recycle?
The unintended consequences of this action? It will most likely INCREASE the amount of trash going to the landfill each year, rather than decrease it according to the Fiscal & Economic Impacts of a Ban on Plastic Foam Foodservice and Drink Containers in New York City produced by the MB Public Affairs Research Center.
This is due to the fact that alternatives to foam packaging are less desirable in that many of these alternatives have a plastic or wax coating to prevent leakage/collapse of the products while in use. Well, according to the city's own Department of Sanitation, food contaminated materials with a "heavy wax or plastic coating" are not accepted by the city for recycling. Read that again. DeBlasio's administration decides to ban EPS due to it being "un-recyclable" (which is false) and will force city businesses to use alternatives that are not accepted as recyclable by the city?? The progressive thought process sure is hard to follow!
Additionally, the economic impact of this ban was estimated be ~$100M a year. With the cities agencies already spending nearly $12M/year on EPS products, making the switch to the lowest cost alternatives will raise that by an additional $11M/year. Restaurants in the five boroughs would see an increase of $57M in operating expenses. In short, for roughly every $1.00 spent today, consumers and businesses would need to spend a minimum of $1.84 on alternatives. So, the cost of eating out for New Yorkers is going to more than double as a result of this decision.
No, rather than instituting free market, cost savings, true environmentally friendly solutions, New York's political betters decided to go the route of restricting people's freedom and choice by instituting a ban. Forget the fact that New York is home to four EPS packaging companies, employing ~1,600 people over 9 facilities and providing over $47M in payroll taxes and over $2.3M in state taxes. Never mind the offers of like companies that were willing to assist in free-market solutions that would save the city and estimated $100M per year, rather than actually serving to expand the amount of material that goes to the landfill each year. Forget the fact that by supporting proposed recycling solutions, you provide an opportunity for new business markets which could lead to jobs and increased tax revenue. All of this be damned, let's use the power of government to subjugate the people to what the politicians feel is best, because clearly, the people are too ignorant to decide themselves.
What's that saying? The problem with common sense is that you have to deal with so many people that lack it. Thanks Mayor DeBlasio, you and yours prove that adage perfectly!