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NY State Bans Foam Containers!

September 17, 2021 3 min read

NY State Bans Foam Containers!

Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban

In 2020, New York State adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts.

Polystyrene foam is a concern for people and the environment. Foam packaging is one of the top contributors of environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and other natural resources, as well as littering our communities and natural areas. It is lightweight, breaks apart easily, and does not readily biodegrade. When polystyrene foam ends up as litter in the environment, it can persist for a long time and may also become microplastic pollution. In addition, foam containers and loose fill packaging, such as packing peanuts, are not accepted in most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle and has a low value. For these reasons, certain expanded polystyrene foam products will be banned in New York to protect the environment, our communities, and to support sustainable materials management.

Effective Date
January 1, 2022.

Foam Ban
Under the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban, effective January 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state.

Covered Food Service Providers
A covered food service provider is any person engaged in the business of selling or distributing prepared food or beverages for on-premises or off-premises consumption.

Examples of covered food service providers include:

  • Food service establishments, caterers, temporary food service establishments, mobile food service establishments and pushcarts as defined in the New York State Sanitary Code; (link leaves DEC's website)

  • Retail food stores as defined in article 28 of the Agriculture and Markets Law; (link leaves DEC's website)

  • Delis;

  • Grocery stores;

  • Restaurants;

  • Cafeterias;

  • Coffee shops;

  • Hospitals, adult care facilities, and nursing homes; and

  • Elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.

Stores and Distributors
In addition to covered food service providers, no store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers or loose fill packaging that contains expanded polystyrene foam, in New York state. This includes any non-food retail or wholesale establishment.

Manufacturers
No person, firm, or corporation that produces or imports expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging in New York state.

Containers and Packaging Affected Under the Ban
Disposable food service containers made of expanded polystyrene that will be 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, and includes any container generally recognized as designed for single use. Polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) will also be banned under the law.

Exemptions

This law does 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);

  • A city with a population of one million or more which has a local polystyrene ban in place, including New York City (link leaves DEC's website); and

  • Any county that enacts a polystyrene ban by local law, ordinance, or regulation that provides environmental protection equal to or greater than the state law and the county files a written declaration with DEC. All other local laws are preempted by state law.

Please e-mail foamban@dec.ny.gov with questions about how the statewide ban may affect local laws, ordinances, and regulations or for information about filing a written declaration with DEC.

[Reposted from NYS DEC]


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