Mayor de Blasio Marks First Day Of New York City’s Styrofoam Ban

January 1, 2019

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio, Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Director Mark Chambers announced today that the City’s styrofoam ban is in effect, eliminating a major source of petroleum based waste. Now, food service establishments, stores, and manufacturers may not possess, sell, or offer for use single service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food service articles or loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts.”

"Global warming is threatening our city, and to fight it, we have to change the way we live,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The 60 million pounds of styrofoam New Yorkers throw away each year clog our landfills and fuel the petroleum economy destroying our planet. We’re ending this dirty practice so we can ensure a cleaner, fairer future for our children."

“Foam products cannot be recycled, plain and simple, and they have no place in our daily lives,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “Foam is a source of litter in our neighborhoods, and it clogs our storm drains and pollutes our beaches. We cannot achieve zero waste without addressing the single-use products ubiquitous in modern life. This is our first step. We have fought for four years to ban these products in favor of reusable, recyclable and compostable alternatives. Today, I am proud to say today that we have prevailed and are moving toward a foam-free NYC.”

As a result of the ban, manufacturers and stores may not sell or offer single-use foam items such as cups, plates, trays, or clamshell containers. There is a six month grace period from when the ban goes into effect on January 1, 2019 before fines can be imposed. DSNY, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of Consumer Affairs will continue to conduct outreach and education in multiple languages to businesses throughout all five boroughs. During the six-month warning period, businesses that still use foam products may receive a “warning card” reminding them of the ban and directing them to DSNY outreach resources.

“This long-overdue ban will put an end to Styrofoam littering our streets and clogging our waterways,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Now we must build on this progress by cutting out other wasteful, outdated products like single-use plastic bags and plastic straws.”

New Yorkers throw away 60 million pounds of foam products each year. To help educate businesses about the new law, the Department of Sanitation has already contacted over 129,000 retailers and food service establishments. DSNY is also coordinating with elected officials, community boards, business improvement districts, business organizations and other stakeholders to ensure New Yorkers understand how to comply with this law. The Department’s Commercial Outreach team provides free in-person trainings and online webinars to businesses and will be conducting site visits around the city during the six-month warning period. Businesses can request to host a training or sign-up for a scheduled one by visiting nyc.gov/dsnybusinessresources.

Non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in revenue per year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products not composed of EPS would create undue financial hardship. Waivers granted will be valid for a one-year period beginning July 1, 2019 and on a rolling basis.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our city's economy - and DCA is committed to helping them thrive," said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. "We are proud to partner with our fellow city agencies and play a role in ensuring zero waste to landfills by 2030 while also making sure businesses are not only aware of, but are operating under the law."

Under the de Blasio administration, New York City has become a global leader on climate change and sustainability. In 2014, Mayor de Blasio committed to reducing New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. In 2017, the Administration doubled down on its commitment to sustainability by delivering the first-ever city plan to align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to the global 1.5° Celsius target. To protect New Yorkers, the City is also moving forward with a $20 billion resiliency program designed to ensure that our neighborhoods, economy, and public services will be ready to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change.

The City is also holding polluters to account by suing the five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies who have contributed the most to climate change and is standing up for future generations and New York City pension holders by being the first major city in the nation to commit to divesting pension funds from fossil fuels. Building on this commitment, Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and City pension trustees recently announced a goal of doubling New York City’s pension fund investments in climate solutions to $4 billion by 2021. In 2018, the City also launched “Bring It,” a sustainability campaign focused on empowering young New Yorkers to reduce waste and create a cleaner, fairer city.

Who is Covered:

  • For-profit or not-for-profit: food service establishments, mobile food commissaries, and stores that sell or use foam items; and
  • Manufacturers and distributors of polystyrene foam packaging that are located or operate within any of the five boroughs of New York City.

What is Covered:

  • Single-service foam items including cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers and trays.
  • Foam loose fill packaging, commonly known as “packing peanuts.”

What is Not Covered:

  • Foam containers used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service establishment, mobile food commissary, or store.
  • Foam containers used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar appliance.
  • Foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping.

For more information, visit: nyc.gov/foamban.

About EPS:

  • Expanded polystyrene is a plastic resin manufactured into consumer products such as “foam” cups, containers, trays, plates, clamshell cases and egg cartons.
  • EPS is a major source of neighborhood litter and hazardous to marine life. EPS foam is a lightweight material that can clog storm drains and can also end up on our beaches and in New York Harbor. EPS containers can break down into smaller pieces, which marine animals may mistake for food. The environmental assessment prepared for the bill found that expanded polystyrene particles can wind up in the harbor, and in the floating gyre of non-biodegradable plastic debris that has been found in the Atlantic Ocean – creating a hazard for marine life such as sea turtles and fish.
  • EPS is already banned in cities across the country, including Washington, DC, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Albany, and Seattle. In total, more than seventy cities have banned foam and businesses large and small have shifted to alternative products that are biodegradable or otherwise recyclable.

"When it comes to the environmental challenges facing our state and our world, we've learned that if we all make small changes in our behavior, together we can have a big impact. New York City's new ban on polystyrene packaging is the kind of forward-thinking policy that will ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a livable planet. Congratulations to the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for making our city cleaner and greener," said State Senator Liz Krueger.

Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said, "New York City's styrofoam ban represents a major step in the right direction. Our streets, trees, parks and waterways should not be be plagued with unsightly and harmful petroleum products. I'll be working to extend this ban statewide as we work towards a clean and healthy New York."

"Today marks an important step towards our City's goal of diverting zero waste to landfill by 2030" said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management. "Styrofoam is a prevalent non-recyclable material in our waste stream that has no other potential for a second life other than piling into our landfills. Banning such materials from our City is critical to our future sustainability and I look forward to working with the administration to examine the potential for banning other non-recyclable materials in order to meet our zero by 30 target."

“New York City is again a leader in ridding our one planet of harmful waste,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Banning single-use styrofoam is a major step in making our City more ecofriendly as we promote alternative, more sustainable materials.”

”The elimination of single-use foam is a simple way the City can contribute to fighting climate change,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. ”I look forward to working with the Administration as we search for ways to protect our environment.”

"The scientific evidence is overwhelming: we are choking our planet with plastic, one styrofoam container, plastic bag, straw, and bottle at a time. After a five-year series of court battles with an industry committed to preserving plastic pollution, I'm thrilled that we are finally banning styrofoam in New York City. Foam cups, containers, and peanuts are made from petroleum, used just once, break apart easily, cause litter problems, contaminate our recycling process, pollute our oceans, and never biodegrade. Props to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and the environmental and EJ advocates for staying the course for years to choose planet over plastic. Let's keep the momentum going. Styrofoam down. Plastic bags, straws, and bottles still to go," said Council Member Brad Lander.

“Implementation of the ban on single-use Expanded Polystyrene is a major step toward making New York a cleaner city, with a smaller environmental footprint. Building on this success, let's find a way to eliminate other single-use and non-biodegradable products, like plastic bags, that are filling our landfills, littering our neighborhoods, and polluting our waterways. Thank you to all the New Yorkers who spoke out and fought to make our city more sustainable for generations to come, and to my colleagues on the Council and in the Mayor's Office for their leadership in making this ban possible,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“We tip our hats to Mayor De Blasio and Sanitation Commissioner Garcia for standing up to the plastics industry and moving forward to implement this environmentally sensible law," said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Enviroment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Based on the experience in other cities, we expect the foam ban here will mean cleaner streets and parks, less pollution in our waterways and greater use of environmentally friendly food and beverage take-out containers.”

"We are thrilled to see New York City's long-delayed single-service EPS ban finally go into effect-- what a happy new year indeed," said Melissa Iachan, Senior Staff Attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. "This rational measure will finally give relief to one of the most prevalent pollution sources in our city's neighborhoods who already bear the brunt of playing host to our waste processing facilities. By eliminating single use polystyrene from New York City's waste stream, we are not only telling our overburdened communities that their street and park cleanliness matters too, but we are committing to ridding our many bodies of water from the most common pollutant found there. We commend Commissioner Garcia for her thorough analysis of whether any viable recycling options existed for this toxic material, and are pleased that after years of litigation, the judicial branch has upheld what is sensible and sustainable policy."

“The Queens Solid Waste Advisory Board Organizing Committee is pleased to lend our support to the goal of eliminating the sale and use of Food-Service Foam and Foam-Packing Peanuts from our City's stores, streets, and landfills,” said Wylie Goodman, Co-Chair of the Queens Solid Waste Advisory Board Organizing Committee. “We have long known that these products cause harm to people and our planet while costing our City money we can ill-afford to waste. The good news is that eco-friendly, compostable alternatives exist. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the ban’s supporters, including many elected officials from Queens, who have made the right choice to ensure a healthier and safer New York City.”

“The Manhattan SWAB could not be more pleased that the NYC Foam ban is finally in effect today! EPS foam is, and always has been, a foe to humans, animals, and the environment. As packaging, people drink or eat out of EPS foam containers which leech harmful chemicals into our bodies. As waste, EPS foam is not recyclable and winds up in landfills or incinerators, contributing to pollution. As litter, EPS foam breaks down into tiny pieces polluting our waterways and sickening animals when ingested. We are so pleased that this harmful material is now largely banned from use in our great city," said Sarah Currie-Halpern, outgoing Chair of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board.

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