A City Wide Ban On Single-Use Foam Containers Has Gone Into Effect

Say goodbye to those styrofoam takeout boxes.

According to the New York City Department of Sanitation website, beginning in 2019, “food service establishments, stores, mobile food commissaries and manufacturers may not possess, sell, or offer for use single-service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food service articles or loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” in New York City.”

The announcement comes after a long legal battle between the Restaurant Action Alliance and the city that ended in June after a lawsuit was dismissed in Manhattan Civil Court. Since styrofoam poses a particularly large environmental threat- as it can not be recycled and the material doesn’t break down in landfills either- the city is taking this action as a combined initiative to try and reach their “zero waste to landfill” goal by 2030.

According to a report by The Guardian, in 2014, the NYDS collected nearly 8,500 tons of expanded polystyrene, and estimates that around 90% of that is from single-use food-service products like cups, trays and containers. This is particularly hazardous because, during organic waste collection, foam can break down into small pieces that get mixed in with organic waste, contaminating it and making the waste unusable for composting or digestion.

Banned items now include polystyrene foam single-service items including cups, bowls, plates, take-out containers, and trays as well as those beloved packing peanuts. This law will affect any business that sells or uses EPS products within any of NYC’s five boroughs. Businesses have until June 30 of this year to get rid of any remaining foam or will face up to $1,000 fine.

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