The ban prohibits New York City stores and food-service businesses from offering, selling or processing single-use foam food containers, including takeout clamshells, cups, plates, bowls, coolers and trays.
Manufacturers and stores are also not allowed to sell or offer loose fill packaging, more commonly known as “packing peanuts,” anymore.
“Foam cannot be recycled, plain and simple,” said Acting Sanitation Commissioner Steven Costas. “When foam enters our waste stream, it becomes a source of neighborhood litter and can end up on our beaches and in our waterways.
Costas added that foam is hazardous to marine life and can also clog drain storms. Foam is also a contaminant in DSNY’s recycling and organics programs.
Single-use foam items are not recyclable, and are collected as trash. DSNY is encouraging businesses to use alternative packaging options, including compostable products, recycling paper, plastic or aluminum.
“Over the past six months, we’ve worked to educate businesses of the new law,” Costas said, “and many businesses have already made the change to recyclable products.”
Since January 1, DSNY and other agencies have sent mailers to nearly 13,000 commercial addresses, sent nearly 30,000 foam ban enforcement warning cards and conducted surveys on foam during recycling and organics outreach site visits.
They also sent email blasts to elected officials, business improvement districts (BIDS), merchant associations, chambers of commerce, industry groups and more.
They have also been running a social media campaign on the foam ban.
Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who chairs the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said in order to meet the city’s goal of zero waste to landfill by 2030, the city has to rid its waste stream of non-recyclable materials like Styrofoam.
“It’s time for New York City to move away from the use of poly-styrene once and for all,” Reynoso said.
Foam containers that are used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service establishment are not banned. Neither are containers that are used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood or poultry sold from a butcher case.
Foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping are also exempt from the ban.
Nonprofits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in gross income for the most recent tax year can apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Business Services (SBS).
The fines are $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Food service establishments should be prepared for inspector at least annually as part of routine inspections or 311 investigations.
“Reducing our waste is vital to the health of our planet and our city,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Single-use foam has littered our streets, sidewalks and parks or ended up in landfills for too long.”