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New York City Bans Foam Products

Regulation will reduce waste, improve use of sustainable products


Regulation will reduce waste, improve use of sustainable products.

EPS foam

In an effort to reduce the amount of solid waste produced, New York City has instituted a ban on certain products made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). The law will affect mostly single-service items such as cups, bowls, takeout containers, and trays. Polystyrene loose fill packaging, commonly known as packing peanuts,is also included. The ban affects businesses, agencies, and institutions that are located or operate within any of New York’s five boroughs and will go into effect after a grace period that ends in January 2016.

While most uses of EPS foam are now banned, some exceptions have been granted such as for prepackaged food and foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping. While EPS products are common, the New York Department of Sanitation notes that alternative packaging options such as paper, plastic, aluminum, and biodegradable products are available from a variety of packaging distributors. Additionally, nonprofits and small business with less than $500,000 in revenue per year are eligible to apply for hardship exemptions. Learn more about the new law here.