New York City Bans Plastic Foam Containers

Connector Winter 2019

New York City began banning the possession, sale, or use of certain foam products as of January 1st, 2019.

According to the NYC Department of Sanitation, “dirty, post-consumer, single-service foam food and beverage containers cannot be recycled in a manner that is economically feasible, environmentally effective, and safe for employees as part of the City’s curbside recycling program,” therefore, as of January 1, stores, restaurants, and mobile food commissaries are banned from using foam products such as takeout clamshells, cups, and plates.

Packing peanuts are out, too, as “manufactures and stores may no longer sell or offer for sale loose foam packaging.” There are exceptions to the ban, though. Foam containers that are used for prepackaged food that are sealed up before a restaurant or store receives them are acceptable. The foam containers that store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood, or poultry sold from a butcher case are also considered an exception. The foam blocks used to protect items during shipping are not included in the ban either.

From now until June 30, a “six month warning period” is in effect for NYC businesses. Beginning July 1, though, “establishments found in violation of the foam ban will receive fines for each Notice of Violation issued within a 12-month period.” One violation will run you $250. A second offense is $500, and for a third or more, the fine is $1,000.