Is there going to be for real a ban on all coal and wood-fired ovens in New York City?
In the last few months, there has been a lot of talking and press coverage on the matter. Many coal and wood-fired ovens indeed have an impact on the health of the neighborhood they are located in. And comprehensibly the new proposed rule aims to improve the air quality in those areas.
But the debate between institutions, media and the pizza makers involved has been fierce. Also, there has been plenty of confusion.
Even Elon Musk himself stated his opinion pretty clearly, by defining the new announced rule as “a bullshit that won’t have any impact on the climate change situation”.
Moreover, in an absolutely rational move and with the grace of a Shakespearean actor, a man filmed (and then posted on Twitter) himself while throwing grievances and pizza slices into the NYC City Hall.
His claim “Give us pizza or give us death” surely caught our sympathy. As Italians, we take pizza pretty seriously. Churchill once said “Italians lose wars as if these were football matches, and football matches as if these were wars”. We probably should make a version of it by switching football matches to pizza.
We can personally understand that. And we would be first in line to protest if someone were banning pizza for any reason.
But the point here is… that literally no one in NYC wants to ban wood-fired ovens nor pizza!
Then what’s the NYC regulation on ovens really about, if not a ban?
As we have already said, the regulation is definitely not a ban. It is instead an effort to grant cleaner air and reduce pollution in several neighborhoods where wood-fired ovens, and even more coal ones, actually have an impact on the area’s health conditions.
The unregulated use of wood and coal-burning cook stoves in densely populated urban areas poses in fact a significant threat to public health. This is due to their emissions of fine particulate matter and noxious odors. These can reach both pizza restaurant’s workers and all the residents living in close proximity to restaurant exhausts.
The fine particles, smaller than 1/30th the width of a human hair, can penetrate the body’s defenses and lodge deep in the lungs. This makes them a real concern that clashes with the federal Clean Air Act.
To prevent these issues, or at least control them, the regulation asks the involved pizza operators to hire an engineer to carry out a stoves review and install filters or devices to reduce 75% of carbon emissions.
Should the report determine that a reduction of 75% or greater is unattainable or that the installation of emissions controls is infeasible, it must then identify any available emission control options capable of achieving at least 25% reduction. Alternatively, the report should provide a clear explanation for the inability to install any emissions controls.
In other words, the new regulation is not a ban at all. Instead, it mainly requests due diligence for all the coal and wood-fired ovens that have been running before 2016. All pizza ovens since 2016 already respect these requirements.
Overall, apparently less than 100 pizza restaurants will be affected by the new regulation.
That said, there is a but – a fairly huge BUT – because this (we believe reasonable) rule will actually make some pizza restaurants’ life harder.
The REAL major issue for coal and wood-fired pizza makers
Although pizza is safe in NYC and no ovens ban is going to spark the fuse of a revolt in Little Italy, coal- and wood-fired oven restaurants will need to face several issues.
Whether the required filters and emission-control devices may alter the pizza flavor is still debated. Some established pizza makers have loudly yelled their grievances, mourning that touching the wood-burning process of their ovens will alter – possibly destroy – the flavors and authenticity of their pizzas.
On the other hand, other well-known pizza makers such as Paulie Gee’s Giannone affirm that no air scrubber actually alters any aromas of the most beloved food in the world.
In our opinion as professionals in the industry, the real downside is another one.
And it regards the very high costs coming from the installation of the new filters and devices.
The average cost for their implementation fluctuates in fact around 20,000$.
On top of that, there’s an even bigger economic weight to lift for pizza restaurants affected by the new regulation.
Because these devices and filters also require frequent maintenance. Which means, practically, hiring someone who every couple of weeks provides the necessary maintenance of the stoves.
Then what should you do now if you own a pizza restaurant in NYC?
First of all, you should not worry about any ban on ovens or on the future of pizza in NYC. No one is plotting against the Italian food we all deeply love. Also, no one is discussing any ban or shutting down any old fashioned, smokey pizza restaurant.
Instead, what you really need to do is to evaluate all the options you have to make your pizza shop cleaner and environmentally sustainable, thus reducing your operating costs at the same time.
As we have been talking about, spending 20,000$ for filters and devices plus all the regular maintenance, might be a burden for your business.
That’s why, in our humble opinion, the best shot for your restaurant in 2023 is picking an oven that equals wood-fired ones in terms of performances and temperature, but without all the incurring costs, labor and downsides of them.
We are talking about the ground-breaking innovations brought by the new era of electric ovens. And this is exactly the case of Moretti Forni’s Neapolis, the world’s most powerful electric oven.
We’ve extensively compared it with wood-fired ovens here.
With Neapolis, you will:
- Save money by cutting operational costs
- Save time and money since it requires very low maintenance
- Grant your pizza consistent quality everyday, anytime
- Bake a pizza in less than ONE minute
That’s why we’ve chosen to become the Official Partners of Moretti Forni in the US. And that’s also why through MODALiTA you will always grant yourself the real quote, with no added mark-up on the producer’s price.
And obviously, the very best approved by the brand customer service for all your needs.
Get in touch with us to get your quote and start igniting the rocket of your business!