Loathsome nanny-state mayor now considering banning styrofoam

posted at 7:11 pm on February 7, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on extra-large sized sodas will not come into full effect until next month, but in the meantime, he’s got his eyes on his next crusade for forcibly manipulating New Yorkers’ behavior: A ban on styrofoam. The NY Post reports:

The Bloomberg administration is considering banning Styrofoam cups and containers — popular at thousands of delis and food carts across the city— as it prepares to roll out a major recycling announcement in the coming weeks, a Sanitation Department official said yesterday. …

Mayor Bloomberg last year set a goal of recycling 30 percent of the city’s household trash by 2017, up from 15 percent now. …

But opponents — many of them restaurant and cart owners — have blasted the measure as unnecessarily intrusive. …

While the Styrofoam proposal is gaining momentum at City Hall, officials said the upcoming report on recycling recommendations might omit the measure.

Environmentalists have hated styrofoam since what feels like time immemorial, and other eco-trendy cities like Seattle already have their own styrofoam bans in place — and if the city of New York really thinks that doing so would be beneficial for them as part of their recycling quota, fine, I suppose. I’d just hope that such a quota would be a result of a careful cost vs. benefit analysis of the consequences, costs, and alternatives rather than merely Bloomberg’s desire to make up new rules that he perceives are somehow more noble than New Yorkers’ self-institutionalized way of doing things (private individuals operating out of their own self-interest kind of have a knack for figuring out a way to accomplish things cheaply and efficiently, ya’ know?).

Recycling is reliably pursued as a worthwhile goal in and of itself, whereas too often its actually just a relic of the 198os during which landfill capacity was the hip eco-crisis du jour. Recycling is a manufacturing process that consumes resources, and in plenty of cases, those resources are more valuable than the ones they are purportedly trying to cut down on. While it is certainly true that recycling technology has also improved over the years and indeed made recycling certain materials more cost-effective than trashing them in various instances, these types of recycling quotas have a habit of being arbitrary feel-good mandates rather than well-thought-out, environmentally sound practices.

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