- Some of the most high-profile chefs in London have co-signed a letter calling on the city's new mayor, Sadiq Khan, to ban polystyrene packaging. Chef Ed Baines called it the "scourge of SoHo," as reported by Resource.
- The chefs say that the large amount of polystyrene used to ship items such as produce takes up valuable space at restaurants and is wasteful.
- The U.K.'s Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) pushed back against these opinions and pointed to a machine at London’s Billingsgate Market which converts polystyrene fish boxes into new plastic material.
Khan promised to help increase local recycling rates and make London "one of the world's greenest cities" during his campaign. While he recently appointed a new deputy mayor focused on environmental issues, including waste, a spokesperson told Resource that Khan doesn't have the power to enforce a polystyrene ban even if he wanted to.
The chefs' letter pointed to recent examples of polystyrene bans in Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. as examples to follow. Many U.S. environmental advocates see the material as the next big target after plastic bags, but previous ban efforts in cities such as New York have been unsuccessful due to heavy opposition. Like most packaging materials, polystyrene is technically recyclable and manufacturers are quick to fight any talk of bans.
"The chefs involved should have first discussed the management of used EPS fish boxes with their waste management contractors, rather than issue these very inaccurate comments," said FPA Executive Director Martin Kersh, as reported by Resource. "We have been delighted to work with the restaurant industry to achieve food waste reductions and would be pleased to work with them and the Greater London Assembly to achieve improvements in waste management."
England's recently enacted plastic bag fee has proven successful so far and statistics around coffee cup waste have sparked new recycling efforts, so a public campaign around polystyrene foam could easily be next.