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Councilor wants to ban medium Dunk's cups and other plasticy food containers

The outlaw Josie Dunk's cupThe outlaw Josie Dunkin' cupCity Council President Steve Murphy wants to ban "expanded polystyrene" food and beverage containers - the kind we all call Styrofoam, even though they actually aren't.

The full council votes today on his request for a formal hearing on the idea, which could lead to both a ban and fines for any businesses found selling food or beverages in the containers after the law goes into effect.

Murphy says the city has no facilities for recycling the stuff, which can sit in landfills without degrading for hundreds of years. He says biodegradable alternatives are readily available and that other cities, such as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have already banned polystyrene packaging.

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Comments

I don't understand why they give you the plastic cup inside a styrofoam cup when you order a cold beverage.

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My low opinion of DD coffee quality is not news, but what particularly galls me is this practice you describe. Heaven forbid your 60-ounce mixture of cream, ice, and sugar (with a dash of "coffee") should get a little warm! It's a uniquely New England thing from my experience, and I'd be glad to see the waste it generates diminished.

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it's to keep it cold as long as possible and the condensation thing mentioned.

Also Craig, I order iced coffee, no sugar, and milk. No sugar and cream mixture for me. And my iced tea is no sugar with a lemon wedge. So don't assume.

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Assuming your ordered your cold drink on a hot day, the condensation on one of those extra-giganto-super sized coffees can be enough to fill a kiddie pool.

The styrofoam cup kindly keeps it contained for you.

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This still uses twice as many cups as required to accomplish your twin goals of having a cold beverage and dry fingers. It shouldn't be a big deal to the company to give you a cold beverage inside a polystyrene cup only, saving them the nominal expense of the redundant polypropylene cup inside, and giving the consumer half as much garbage to throw away.

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Honestly, please reread what you just wrote. Can't handle condensation on a cup? Wow... deal with it!

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...the city is covered with the damn things. Go walk around any neighborhood and it won't take you long to find the remnants of one.

Rather than single out Dunkin' Donuts, however - the rule change should be that any disposable utensils, dishes, or containers given out by restaurants needs to be biodegradable or made of recycleable paper.

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The proposed ban would also affect Chinese restaurants or anybody else who gives you food in one of those white containers.

I just happened to have a Dunkin' Donuts cup handy (woke up late this morning, didn't have time to make breakfast before getting the kidlet off to school, so stopped at the Walk Hill DD's in Forest Hills)

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Bad Adam. No donut.

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I can live with DD serving me coffee in paper cups but how am I supposed to get my Chinese takeout home if they do away with these containers?

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Most of my Chinese food main dishes come in plastic containers with separate lids. It's only the precious scallion pancakes and appetizers that come in the other sort. But I'll make whatever arrangements are required in the future to get the scallion pancakes.

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I just remembered. The Chinese food place I go to uses a hard plastic container that has the recycle logo on it.

What I don't know is what happens to it when I put it in the recycle bin.

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IMAGE(http://rednecknparadise.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/chinese-food-container-carry-out-take-out.jpg)

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I don't usually order a la carte. I usually order a number 23 and they lump it all together in one of those containers.

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I was thinking of the containers food from places like Panda Express comes from and, yes, I have sunk that low. You may shake your head in pity.

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Waxed paper. They come in long and flat versions also, though they generally leave out the little wire handle. Just as well; I always have to pry that off before putting the leftovers in the microwave...

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The coated paper actually doesn't biodegrade all that fast in a landfill either -- the often-quoted numbers are 20 years for a paper cup or similar material versus pretty much never for polystyrene. But really, it's a luxury and a waste that places will give you a container at all. We really should be bringing reusable containers when we get takeout. And no, I don't generally do this except for a coffee cup, but we really should be focusing our energy on something like a program that gives incentives for bringing your own tupperware/bento/whatever.

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I agree, but I think there may be some health code regulations which can prevent this practice. I do try and do this in some situations(stores that sell bulk prepared foods, etc) am often rebuffed by employees (or owners) who tell me that they are not allowed to let customers use their own containers, for fear of contamination or something like that.

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This sort of regulation is an indirect tax on the consumer, since the cost of doing business will be forced up, and costs will be just passed on to buyers, in the form of higher prices or inferior products. There will presumably be costs of enforcement, too. How will these new costs be funded?

Not that this sort of thing is anything new, since there are already all sorts of impediments to doing business in Boston. On the plus side, Murph gets his name into the press, which is always good for re-election prospects.

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By not regulating this, you are allowing the people that run these companies to pass on the clean up costs.

That is pretty much what most "anti-regulation" boils down too.

You want your favored industries to be able socialize their costs of doing business...

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So paper doesn't have to be cleaned up? Murphy is talking about what happens under 10 feet of fill at the dump, not what blows around the streets.

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I live nearly across the street from one and their trash gets picked up daily, compared to twice weekly when a cafe was in the same spot. I have to tell them every time to use one bag for two dissimilar food items (ie donut and croissant), and that I don't need a tray for 2 drinks. There is also some of their trash left around the neighborhood by customers. The coffee is awful, espresso-ish things OK. The company would save money by producing less waste. If they went to non-styrofoam, I would hope they go the extra step to something BPA free.

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Dunkin customers daily toss their DD cups into my Mom's yard as they drive by. I've witnessed and I've helped her clean it up. Granted this is in the 'burbs, not the city, but still what a bunch of freakin' lazy losers.

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So Murphy is concerned that cups sitting underground don't break down over hundreds of years? Why? There are abandoned dumps all over the country. When was the last time you got worked up that somewhere underground there is something that isn't changing into something else?

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Councilor wants to ban medium Dunk's cups and other plasticy food containers

Why “medium”, specifically? Will small & large & extra large be exempted?

I'm all in favor of banning styrofoam, but I don't understand this detail.

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But their small ones are paper-ish, not plastic-ish.

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They used to all be paper cups (back in the early 80's) and you could sit inside and have coffee out of a real mug, which is my preference.

I miss the paper, hate the "styrofoam" so I'd love for them to bring back paper. Starbucks manages paper cups so it must be do-able.

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The paper cups take about 20 years in a landfill. They would biodegrade faster though if exposed to water and sunlight, which polystyrene won't. Hey maybe THAT'S why so many Dunks customers throw their cups in the road! They're environmentalists!

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Actually, pretty much nothing degrades in a modern landfill. At the end of the day or week, they cover the latest droppings with clay, to keep rainwater from leaching whatever's in the landfill into any nearby water sources, rivers, etc. But that also prevents any degradation (the choicest, bestest garbage-eating bacteria need water and air), so you can dig up 50-year-old newspapers from some landfills and still read them.

The difference between paper and the sort of plastic Murphy is talking about is that you can recycle paper but you can't recycle the plastic, which means the city has to pay to have it hauled away to wherever it is Boston's trash is hauled. Plus, if you leave a paper cup and a polystyrene cup by the side of the road, one will eventually decompose while the other will just sit there, mocking you.

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What you describe is not a solution. "Paper" cups are not just paper. Try putting a liquid into paper or cardboard and see what happens. Such cups are plastic coated paper.

So rather than taking a cup made from a single compound (polystyrene) which IS recyclable (although many communities choose not to recycle it), you're trading it for a NON-degradable, NON-recycleable "paper" cup.

This does not solve ANY of the stated issues revolving chiefly around litter..

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I once tried to purchase a small coffee in a Sebastians, I think it was, and was told they did not sell small size coffees. Only medium and large. I thought for something to be "medium", it had to come between "small" and "large". I understand that "medium" can be a size in and of itself, but if all that is sold is medium and large, doesn't the medium in effect become a small?

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Wasn't that a Jerry Seinfeld bit?

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if they just peed directly in your mouth instead.

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Let's play along with Murph, because stewardship and sustainability are good values.

How much of the refuse we generate is this single-use "expanded polystyrene" and is it very different than other non-biodegradable packaging we deposit in our landfills?

What is the alternative packaging product for coffee, how meals to go, etc?

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What's the point? Paper doesn't degrade either if it's in a landfill. And the type of people who buy Dunks coffee are unlikely to take the paper cup home with them and recycle it.

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instead of blowing around for eternity.

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with those annoying crinkly plastic bags that catch in tree branches and remain out of reach for decades.

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Not plastic coated paper. Paper cups aren't just paper - or they wouldn't work.

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5 cent deposit on polystyrene cups. Not only will people bring them back and generally recycle them, but a fleet of Asians will pick up trash for us!

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1% of the homeless population collect 99% of the deposit wealth!

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When Boston City Council votes the public meeting can be made more open Captioning it for folks with hearing loss... see http://stenoknight.com/kws.html

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But doesn't a lot of the trash in the Boston area end up in an incinerator anyway?

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