New York City has banned yet another common product. First it was the trans fats when the City worried about gangs greasing up the subway tracks. Then the red Solo™ cup of soda. Next it was selfies with kittens.
Now, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the largest city in the U.S. will ban polystyrene foam, effective July 1. No more packing peanuts. No more takeout coffee cups. No more Rigid Foam insulation.
Actually I’m good with losing packing peanuts. They are such a PITA to store in my barn.
And I don’t drink coffee.
More than 75 cities and counties in California have banned polystyrene food and beverage containers and more. Brookline, Massachusetts, did the same in 2013. And now NYC.
Did the U.S. suddenly suffer a cranio-rectal inversion? Did the science-denying State of California suddenly end up on the East Coast?
There is, as usual, pretty good (read “scientific”) evidence that plastic is better than paper. It seems that science is anathema to the Far Green.
Let’s spend a minute with the real science instead of the political science.
Study after study has compared “styrofoam” cups side by each with paper cups to find that
• Polystyrene is derived from petroleum and natural-gas. It takes 4,748 gallons of water to make 10,000 Polystyrene cups. The 5.4 million BTUs needed to make 10,000 16-ounce polystyrene cups is about the same as burning 450 pounds of coal. Most important, it takes gallons of water.
• In addition to the renewable twenty million trees, most paper cups are coated with polyethylene, derived from petroleum and natural-gas. It takes 8,095 gallons of water to make 10,000 LDPE-coated paper cups with sleeves. The 6.5 million BTUs needed for 10,000 polyethylene-coated paper cups is equivalent to 542 pounds of coal. (The “greener” polylactide-coated paper cups require even more water and energy.)
The average 16-ounce polystyrene cup uses a third less energy, produces half the solid waste by volume, releases a third less of the so-called greenhouse gases, and uses 40-percent less water than does the “green” 16-ounce paper cup with a sleeve.
[Editor’s note: the next wars will be fought over water.]
I know! I know! We’ll ban the plastic cup because it’s bad and promote the paper cup because it’s so much better for the environment.
We haven’t even gotten to life cycles.
Polystyrene is easy peasy to grind up and put through the process again and again and again so that marvelous, mailable cooler your steaks came in could have a new life as a high dollar coffee cup if the Far Green weren’t determined to cut down our forests.
Do you really want to save the environment? Carry your own mug. Don’t litter on my beach. Learn science.