Single-use foam items will now be of no use to local businesses as the ban on polystyrene foam containers began on Monday.
Although the ban officially took effect January 1, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will now start to fine businesses for using the single-use containers after the six-month grace period expired on Monday. According to officials, violators will be fined $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and finally $1,000 for a third offense and beyond.
This band prohibits all city stores and restaurants from using, offering, selling, or even processing single-use foam containers. Banned items include cups, bowls, plates, trays and take out containers. Also included in the ban, stores will no longer be allowed to sell “packing peanuts.”
However, there is some good news for restaurant owners. Foam containers used for prepackaged food sealed before arriving to the establishment won’t be banned. Foam containers being used to store raw seafood, poultry and meat, and foamed blocks used as protective packaging in shipping will be not be banned.
Acting Sanitation Commissioner Steven Costas said in a press release, that “foam cannot be recycled, plain and simple.” He added, “When foam enters our waste stream, it becomes a source of neighborhood litter and can end up on our beaches and in our waterways. It’s hazardous to marine life and can clog storm drains. It’s even a contaminant in our recycling and organics programs.”
Since foam containers are not recyclable, they are collected as trash in the city. Reports have estimated that foam containers can take 500 years or more to decompose. The city is hoping this encourages companies to opt for compostable or recyclable alternatives.
In a statement, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “By banning single-use [polystyrene foam] containers, New York City businesses will be incentivized to offer customers recyclable alternatives that are safer for our planet and will help to shrink our city’s carbon footprint.”
This is all part of the plan Zero waste plan, which focuses on NYC sending no waste to landfills by 2030. Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Chair of Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management said in a press release that, “In order to meet our city’s goal of zero waste to landfill by 2030, we must rid our waste stream of non-recyclable materials like [polystyrene foam] that have no post-consumer application. Elected officials and advocates fought long and hard to rid our city of this pernicious material, and I am thrilled to see the ban finally go into effect.”