One of America's foremost food writers, Mark Bittman talks about polysterene and Big Plastic in today's NY Times article "Good Riddance to the Foam Take-Out Carton".
In the article, Bittman mentions NYC's ban on foam cups and other polystyrene foam packaging is a small but symbolic victory. Volume wise, if the ban were totally successful, it would reduce the amount of polystyrene in landfills by less than 50 percent, and the amount of overall curbside collection by less than half of a percent.
Symbolically, the ban generates hope. In addition to forcing both industry and consumers to seek alternatives:
"Combine the surge in these bans with the probably more important and increasingly popular bans of — or taxes on — one-time-use plastic shopping bags, and you start to see a pattern: municipalities and sometimes even states are asserting themselves against the “right” of industry to sell whatever it wants, and more of the public is willing to have government alter its behavior when the reasons are sound. (The just-passed soda tax in Berkeley fits into this pattern.) That combination is leading to victories for the environmental and public health movements, and it’s changing people’s behavior. "
He also mentions the CA Plastic bag ban referendum process where the 16-month delay will allow manufacturers to sell around 9 billion extra bags, worth as much as $145 million. 'That’s down from its pre-ban peak but still a staggering number when you consider almost all of them are used only once," was Bittman's commentary.