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City ban on Styrofoam products to begin in January, mayor says

“There’s no reason to continue allowing this environmentally unfriendly substance to flood our streets, landfills and waterways.”
After years of delay, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City’s Styrofoam ban is slated to begin by Jan. 1, 2019. (iStock)
After years of delay, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City’s Styrofoam ban is slated to begin by Jan. 1, 2019. (iStock)

Take-out is a quintessential part of New Yorkers’ lives, but come January, they can expect to start seeing a lot less of its bulky, non-recyclable aftermath as the city’s Styrofoam ban is slated to go into effect by Jan. 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The announcement came after a lawsuit to prevent the ban was dismissed last week and means that food-service facilities, manufacturers and stores can no longer have, use or sell single-service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam products like cups, plates or clamshell containers or loose-fill packaging such as packing peanuts in the city.

“New York City’s ban on Styrofoam is long overdue, and New Yorkers are ready to start using recyclable alternatives,” de Blasio said. “There’s no reason to continue allowing this environmentally unfriendly substance to flood our streets, landfills and waterways.”

In a statement, the city said it will work with businesses across the five boroughs to make sure they understand the new law and help them make the transition to replace Styrofoam. There will be a six-month grace period from when the ban starts on Jan. 1 before fines will be imposed.

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If able to prove that purchasing alternative, non-EPS products would create financial hardship, non-profits and small businesses earning less than $500,000 in revenue annual will be able to apply for exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services. SBS will accept applications for hardship waivers in the fall.

The Styrofoam ban was first passed in December 2013 and slated to go into effect in January 2016, but advocates from the Dart Container Company claimed polystyrene was recyclable, and the Styrofoam ban was overturned in September 2015.

However, the city did its own study and found that the products were not, in fact, able to be recycled in an “economically feasible or environmentally effective” way.

“In dismissing a lawsuit that sought to block this important environmental initiative, the court recognized that the city’s determination to ban food service foam products was ‘a painstakingly studied decision’ and ‘was in no way rendered arbitrarily or capriciously,’” said Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter. “The court has cleared the way for the city to begin its outreach to businesses so they are aware of and can prepare for the law’s specific requirements before any enforcement occurs.”