Bloomberg to Push Styrofoam Ban, Electric Cars in Last State of City Speech

By Jill Colvin on February 13, 2013 7:44pm 

CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg will propose a ban on Styrofoam and a major boost for electric cars during his final State of the City speech in Brooklyn Thursday.

In his last major policy speech after more than a decade as mayor, Bloomberg will roll out a new set of plans to help improve the city’s recycling rates — an area where critics say the “green” mayor has lagged sorely behind.

To help limit the amount of waste headed to landfills, Bloomberg will announce a plan to ban Styrofoam food packaging from stores and restaurants — a plan DNAinfo.com New York first reported earlier this month.

“One product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never biodegrades is Styrofoam," Bloomberg is expected to say in the speech, which will be delivered at the Barclays Center Thursday, according to excerpts released by his office.

"Something that we know is environmentally destructive and that may be hazardous to our health, that is costing taxpayers money and that we can easily do without... is something that should go the way of lead paint," he is expected to say, adding: "The doggie bag will survive just fine."

The mayor is also set to announce a major expansion in recycling, an area where the city has lagged compared to other cities across the country and the world.

When Bloomberg decided to suspend plastic and glass recycling to cut costs amid a budget crisis in 2002, the city's recycling rate plummeted to just 11 percent after years of steady gains — and it hasn’t recovered since.

To help reach his pledge of doubling the city's recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017, Bloomberg will announce a plan to make recycling easier by doubling the number of recycling containers on the streets to 1,000.

That's in addition to a new recycling plant set to open this spring in Sunset Park, which will be able to process new types of plastics, including salad containers and yogurt cups, which previously could not be recycled.

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Manhattan Recycle
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Billy Figueroa

To boost the effort, the city also plans to launch a pilot program on Staten Island that will collect food waste during curbside collection, which will be composted and turned into fertilizer for city green spaces.

The city sends about 1.2 million tons of food waste to landfills each year, costing the city about $100 million, Bloomberg administration officials said.

Finally, the mayor is planning to announce a major expansion in electrical vehicles, including new curbside vehicle chargers that will allow drivers to recharge their batteries in as little as 30 minutes.

The first two high-speed curbside chargers will be located in Manhattan: One on the Lower East Side, in Seward Park, which will be open to the public, and another at the Con Edison Building on Irving Place, which will be reserved for taxis.

Bloomberg will also push the council to amend the building code to force landlords to wire 20 percent of new public and private parking spots for electric vehicles, creating an estimated 10,000 parking spots for electric vehicles over the next seven years.

The city currently has 100 public charging stations, located mainly in parking lots.

The city will also add 50 new battery electric cars to its municipal fleet, marking the city's largest electric car purchase to date.

"We’ll also make New York City a national leader in electric vehicles,” Bloomberg is expected to say.

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