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Restaurants, Manufacturers, Recyclers Sue to Stop ‘Illegal’ Foam Ban

The Restaurant Action Alliance NYC, a coalition of New York City restaurant owners, together with recycling companies and foodservice packaging manufacturers have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn New York City’s ban on foam foodservice items.

The ban makes it illegal for food establishments to give customers polystyrene foam containers starting July 1, 2015. It also bans polystyrene packaging, or “packing peanuts.”

The city adopted the law after determining that foam cannot be recycled. New York businesses that oppose the ban have long maintained it will increase restaurants’ costs and and send thousands of tons of refuse — that can be recycled — into landfills.

The lawsuit, which was filed in New York Supreme Court, calls the decision to ban foam “arbitrary and capricious,” and asks the court to reverse the determination that foam is not recyclable and order the New York City Department of Sanitation to implement rules to recycle foam.

According to the coalition, market demand for recycled EPS is so “robust” that a single buyer, Plastics Recycling Inc. (PRI), committed to purchase all of New York City’s recyclable polystyrene (both solid and foam), with a right of first refusal over other buyers. PRI said it already has “enough demand to handle a 100 percent recycling rate for a city five times the size of NYC.”

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