Styrofoam Is Next Target for Nanny Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg / AP
February 14, 2013

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will deliver his State of the City address today at Brooklyn’s new Barclay Center. The mayor is looking to solidify his reputation as "Nanny Bloomberg" in his final address with a slew of proposed regulations, including a ban on Styrofoam.

The New York Times reports:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose regulatory lance has slain fatty foods, supersize sodas, and smoking in parks, is now targeting plastic foam, the much-derided polymer that environmentalists have long tried to restrict.

On Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg, in his 12th and final State of the City address, will propose a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging, including takeout boxes, cups and trays. Public schools would be instructed to remove plastic-foam trays from their cafeterias. Many restaurants and bodegas would be forced to restock.

In excerpts from his speech released on Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg rails against plastic foam, even comparing it to lead paint. "We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine," the mayor plans to say. 

Call it the era of clamshell prohibition.

Bloomberg will likely have support from the city council in his crusade against plastic foam. Council speaker, Christine Quinn, went as far as to exclaim that plastic foam is "worse than cockroaches."

The announcement is sure to make waves in a city where take-out food is king. Small businesses will be the ones most hurt as alternatives to Styrofoam will cost them anywhere between two and five times as much.

Andrew Moesel, a spokesman for the New York Restaurant Association, is hoping that the economic effects of such a ban will be taken into consideration.

"As this proposal moves forward, we hope that the concerns of the small businesses it affects—like cost increases—will factor in at least as heavily as environmental concerns," Moesel told Reuters.

The mayor is making the most of his regulatory power in the final years of his 12-year reign over New York City.

He went through with his citywide ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces this past summer even though New Yorkers were against it.

Bloomberg patted himself on the back for coaxing 21 companies to remove salt from their products earlier this week.

The mayor will also announce in his address that he will further complicate parking in the city with plans to outfit 10,000 parking spots with curbside electric car chargers in the next seven years.

New Yorkers fed up with Bloomberg’s meddling can at least look forward to Bloomberg hopping across the pond to be London’s nanny.