NEW YORK, NY —  New York City’s styrofoam ban will go into effect by January 1, 2019. Food service “New York City’s ban on styrofoam is long overdue, and New Yorkers are ready to start using recyclable alternatives. There’s no reason to continue allowing this environmentally unfriendly substance to flood our streets, landfills, and waterways,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Following the dismissal of a lawsuit delaying the ban on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food service articles and packing peanuts in New York City, the city is now able to begin the process of implementing the ban. After consultation with corporation and other stakeholders, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) determined that EPS Foam cannot be recycled. DSNY also determined that there currently is no recycling market for post-consumer EPS collected in a curbside metal, glass, and plastic recycling program.

As a result of the ban, manufacturers and stores may not sell or offer single-use foam items such as cups, plates, trays, or clamshell containers in the City. The sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” is also banned. There is a six month grace period from when the ban goes into effect on January 1, 2019 before fines can be imposed. DSNY, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Local Law 142, passed by the City Council in December 2013, required the DSNY Commissioner to determine whether EPS single service articles can be recycled in an “economically feasible” and “environmentally effective” way. Under the law, if the Commissioner found that EPS was not recyclable, foam food service items and packaging peanuts were then banned.

Council Member Justin Brannan said, “New York City banning styrofoam is a win for our planet. There are plenty of alternatives out there so it makes no sense to continue using a product that doesn’t biodegrade, can’t be recycled and harms wildlife.”

Non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in revenue per year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products not composed of EPS would create undue financial hardship. SBS will begin accepting applications for hardship waivers in the fall.

“As we had previously determined, plain and simple, expanded polystyrene cannot be recycled, and we are pleased that the court decision will allow us to remove this problematic material from our waste stream. This necessary step will help us as we continue to move towards our goal of sending zero waste to landfills,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “We will now restart our outreach and education work to ensure all city businesses are aware of the new rule, and prepared for its upcoming implementation.”


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