ALBANY — Department of Environmental Conservation reminds New Yorkers that the state’s ban on expanded polystyrene foam containers and “packing peanuts” begins Saturday.
While an estimated 65% of New Yorkers are living in communities that have already banned polystyrene, New York’s statewide ban on polystyrene foam containers and loose-fill packaging is among the first in the nation.
DEC and partners continue outreach efforts to advise affected entities about the ban, particularly sellers and distributors of disposable food service containers, such as retail food stores, restaurants, hospitals and schools.
“Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers already live in communities that are ‘foam free,’” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “New York City and Long Island are seeing the benefits of their foam bans with reduced litter on their landscapes and waterways. Now the rest of the State is poised to reap the benefits of a cleaner environment. DEC continues to focus on outreach to educate affected entities, but we know the foam ban will work and we look forward to less waste in our landfills in 2022.”
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is a major contributor to environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways and natural resources. EPS foam is lightweight, breaks apart easily and does not readily biodegrade, rendering it persistent in the environment and susceptible to becoming microplastic pollution.
In addition, EPS foam containers and loose fill packaging are not accepted by most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle, easily contaminates the recycling stream, is often soiled, and has low value.
Starting Jan. 1, New York’s ban prohibits any person engaged in the business of selling or distributing prepared food or beverages for on- or off-premises consumption from selling, offering for sale or distributing disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in the state.
In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging in the state. Disposable food service containers made of expanded polystyrene foam banned under the law include bowls, cartons, hinged “clamshell” containers, cups, lids, plates, trays or any other product designed or used to temporarily store or transport prepared foods or beverages, including containers generally recognized as designed for single use.
Initially, DEC will focus its efforts to achieve compliance with outreach and education to ensure a smooth transition for affected stakeholders, with enforcement to follow as needed.
The regulations do NOT apply to:
• Raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry or fish sold for the purpose of cooking or preparing off-premises by the customer.
• Prepackaged food filled or sealed prior to receipt at a covered food service provider.
• Food service containers made from rigid polystyrene resin that has not been expanded, extruded or foamed (e.g., clear plastic containers marked with a #6 resin identifier).
While the ban begins Saturday, DEC will release final regulations to implement the law in the coming months to assist stakeholders with complying with the law. Draft regulations were released earlier this year. Visit the DEC website to learn more.