New year, new city ban on styrofoam containers

Restaurants and food trucks will have to find new packaging for your quick-fix lunches and late-night snacks, as the city’s styrofoam ban went into effect on January 1. 

“The 60 million pounds of styrofoam New Yorkers throw away each year clog our landfills and fuel the petroleum economy destroying our planet,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re ending this dirty practice so we can ensure a cleaner, fairer future for our children.”

The ban includes single-use styrofoam packaging made from expanded polystyrene (EPS). All single-service cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers and trays will be prohibited. 

Additionally, loose fill packaging, commonly referred to as “packing peanuts,” is also banned.

There is a six-month grace period in order for businesses to fully transition to eco-friendly packaging. 

During this grace period, no fines will be imposed and representatives from the Department of Sanitation, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs will work with businesses across all five boroughs in an array of languages to help with the transition. 

Because the cost of eco-friendly packaging may be higher, non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Businesses.

The Department of Sanitation has already contacted over 129,000 retailers and food service establishments to educate them on the issue. During the grace period, the Department’s Commercial Outreach team will also provide a series of free in-person trainings and webinars in addition to on-site visits.

City officials promised the styrofoam ban was just the beginning.

“This long-overdue ban will put an end to styrofoam littering our streets and clogging our waterways,” said Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Now we must build on this progress by cutting out other wasteful, outdated products like single-use plastic bags and plastic straws.”

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