New York City bans styrofoam foodservice containers; Dunkin’ Donuts seeks hot cup alternatives

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New York City bans styrofoam foodservice containers; Dunkin’ Donuts seeks hot cup alternatives

January 19, 2015 - 07:34

OAKLAND, CA, Jan. 16, 2015 (RISI) -New York City on Jan. 8 became the largest municipality toban expanded polystyrene(EPS) foam foodservice containers, including cups and trays, effective on July 1. The city said it concluded that styrofoam cannot be recycled and there is no market for post-consumer EPS. Solo Cup parent firm Dart Container, who the city said it consulted with when studying the ban, called it an "economic and environmental defeat" since food service represents a small percentage of EPS and the remaining material would go to landfills.

"For a city that's known to be a leader, we just don't understand why NYC officials rejected such an environmentally progressive recycling option,"said a Dart official. "We've been recycling foam in numerous states for years."

The law allows businesses a six-month grace period from when it goes into effect - Jan. 1, 2016 -- before fines can be imposed.

"These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City,"said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less."

"By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today's announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City," he added.

Dart said it conducted tests that "unequivocally proved" the feasibility of recycling EPS.

Coffee giant Dunkin' Donuts said it would replace its iconic styrofoam cup with an alternative at all its 536 stores in New York City, possibly including a double-walled paper cup, a company spokesperson told theNew York Daily News.

Dunkin Donuts has told analysts it was aggressivelyexploring alternatives to styrofoam, but has not made a broad commitment to switch materials such as what McDonald's did in 2013.

Based on paper industry estimates, the 3 to 4 billion hot cups that the retailers represent could amount to 80,000 tons of annual paper cupstock demand.

Dunkin' Donuts has also looked at usingBerry Plastics' polypropylene #5 plastic Versalitehot and cold cup that the company calls "fully recyclable." Reports said Dunkin Brands chairman Nigel Travis appeared this week on CNBC holding a Versalite cup but without making a verbal endorsement. The company is testing the PE cup in several states.

In a 2012 presentation,IP showed US cup demandas 38 billion units of paper cold cups, 33 billion units of foam, 20 billion units of plastic, and 17 billion units of paper hot cups.