The New York City Council voted Thursday to ban the use of foam food containers, making it mandatory for big restaurants to compost and extended the ban on public smoking to e-cigarettes as well.
The foam container ban is seen as a major victory for outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in his State of the City address this year said that such containers were almost impossible to recycle. Environmentalists joined Bloomberg in saying that foam cups, trays and containers were choking and clogging the city's landfills.
The measure, which passed unanimously, was opposed by Dart Container Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of such products, and American Chemistry Council, a trade group, unsuccessfully. The two organizations spent a combined of $1 million to quash the measure.
Dart will have until Jan.1 to prove to the sanitation commissioner that the containers can in fact be collected, recycled and sold in an effective manner. But if Dart fails to convince the commissioner, the bill will go into effect July 1, 2015.
There were concerns that imposing such a ban would affect small businesses and establishments who could find alternatives, like plastic and paper containers, an expensive option. These establishments have been given the option of filing for a waiver.
The e-cigarette ban will extend the public smoking ban already in effect and prevent smokers for using the devices in restaurants, bars, parks and office buildings. Proponents of the ban say that there could be potential effects from inhaling secondhand vapors and also that confused bartenders wouldn't figure out if people were smoking e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes.
The composting rule would require would require restaurants, grocery stores, caterers and other food-related establishments to separate their their food waste form other garbage and haul it to a composting facility.