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Manhattan judge overturns foam ban in New York City; de Blasio administration vows to fight on

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NEW YORK – The recently approved ban on polystyrene foam was overturned Tuesday, just over two months into a grace period meant to let city businesses ease into the prohibition on foam coffee cups, cheap beach coolers, halal street containers and to-go soup cups.

A Manhattan judge nixed the ban saying the city’s argument that the packaging cannot be recycled if soiled is not true. It was that position – that sauce, soup, coffee or other foods rendered foam containers impossible to recycle – which helped Mayor Bill de Blasio secure his administration’s first major environmental initiative in July when the ban was passed.

Businesses had been given until Jan. 1, 2016, to eradicate foam containers from their shelves, but with Tuesday’s ruling it looks as though that may not be necessary.

A spokeswoman for City Hall said they don’t support the reversal.

“We disagree with the ruling. These products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets, and waterways,” spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh said in a statement. “We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect.”

The Restaurant Action Alliance had sued to overturn the ban and called Tuesday’s decision “a victory for the environment and for New York City.”

“The judge has ended the debate about polystyrene recycling by making clear it can be recycled and there is a market for it. Now it’s time for the City to capitalize on this development,” former City Councilman Robert Jackson, who currently heads the group, said.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan referred the task of finding recycling solutions to the city’s sanitation department, which referred PIX11 News to City Hall when asked for comment on the matter.