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New York Foam Ban an Opportunity to Use Healthier, More Sustainable Products

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Ralph Bianculli Jr.

Over the years I’ve learned that everyone in this world deserves to use healthier and environmentally sound products. But more important than just products, I have learned that sustainability as a whole deserves to be mainstreamed. Every consumer should be able to make the sustainable choice. The recent ban on foam in New York is a great step towards achieving that goal.

Earlier in the millennium we saw a greater scope of businesses using foam. Companies ranging from corporate foodservice providers to high end restaurants utilized expanded polystyrene. Today, we see that cities across America are joining the ban on foam. Recent findings about foam’s toxicity and environmental concerns have finally spurred action. Both the EPA and International Agency for Research on Cancer have found foam to be a possible carcinogen causing adverse health effects including skin irritation, respiratory irritation and gastrointestinal problems. Worse off, when consuming food or beverages (particularly hot or microwaved food or beverages) out of foam containers, many of those dangerous petro-based chemicals can leak into your food—meaning you are consuming toxins. Furthermore, foam is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, which cannot biodegrade or compost, and many cities and municipalities including New York City have determined that foam cannot be recycled.

In the hospitality industry I see foam being used mostly in the “back end” of facilities, where guests will not see it. Over the last year, our company, Emerald Brand, has been extremely successful in converting the hospitality sector with forward thinking hotel groups. Some examples include Best Western, WNW Hospitality, InterContinental, and OM Hospitality. The key for us has been finding the early adopters. These are the groups who not only can talk the talk but also walk the walk. They truly want to create healthier and safer environments for their employees and guests. They are proud of their accomplishments and want to communicate it to their stakeholders

Partnership with Eco-Stay Established

To further sustainability in hospitality, Emerald Brand recently partnered with Eco-Stay. Eco-Stay is a Canada based group that specializes in helping subsidize and measure hotel properties’ environmental initiatives by purchasing carbon offsets on behalf of the property. Essentially, a $2.00 per night charge is added to the room. A total of $1.50 is put towards purchasing and measuring the hotel’s carbon offsets, while the additional $.50 goes to on-site investments in sustainable initiatives. The hotel guests also receive credit to help reduce emissions. Our partnership with Eco-Stay is the first of its kind and we’re very proud of that.

My ultimate goal is to inspire millions of others to join the crusade against manmade climate change and resource purging. As a sustainability ambassador, I do my best to educate and influence decision makers in powerful positions who can enact change and make more responsible choices throughout their workplace environment. These changes can really have positive and tangible results for our planet. Climate change is real, and the time to act is now.

Ralph Bianculli Jr. is Vice President of Emerald Brand and a LEED Green Associate. The eldest son of Ralph Bianculli, he began his career at Emerald Brand as a driver’s assistant and warehouse worker in the company’s operations. He soon advanced to Director of Sales, where he was extremely instrumental in penetrating new territory, so much so that national growth lead to the necessary expansion of Emerald Brand’s West Coast warehouse. In 2013 he was elected as Vice President of Emerald Brand.

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