New York City Styrofoam Ban Goes Into Effect On Monday, Other States Follow Suit

A styrofoam take-out container is viewed in a trash can on December 19, 2013 in New York City.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

New York City banned the usage of styrofoam back in January of this year, which was set to go into effect on Monday, July 1, to give businesses a six-month period to switch to other materials, reported CNN. The ban affects mostly food and beverage industries that sell their products in styrofoam packaging, but stores that sell packing peanuts are also affected by the new law.

The banned products include cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers, trays, packing peanuts, and coolers. The law applies to businesses, agencies, institutions, and non-profits that sell foam products. While businesses can switch to any substitute, the city encourages them to use recycled and compostable materials, such as paper.

The law explains that the ban went into place because styrofoam products, also known as polystyrene, cannot be “recycled in a manner that is economically feasible” or “environmentally effective.”

While the law was being worked out last year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on the need to ban styrofoam products.

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

Consequences for those caught continuing to sell the banned material include a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second, $1000 for the third, and so on.

City lawmakers are not the only ones to discourage the use of environmentally-polluting and non-recyclable materials. Many large companies have already begun substituting styrofoam and other environmentally unfriendly materials in response to consumer demand.

Dunkin’ Donuts discontinued the use of styrofoam cups back in 2018 while McDonald’s has announced that they will be switching to all renewable or recyclable products by 2025. Starbucks is another company that has taken steps to reduce plastic pollution by eliminating all plastic straws by next year.

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Other states have since followed in New York’s footsteps, including Maine, Maryland, and Connecticut. Maine will enforce a ban on all styrofoam products to take place by 2021 while Maryland has already banned the substance and has given businesses a year to begin switching their materials. Connecticut is currently contemplating enforcing a ban on styrofoam, making it most likely the next state to pass a law.

New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is pleased about the ban, according to New York City’s official website.

“As we had previously determined, plain and simple, expanded polystyrene cannot be recycled, and we are pleased that the court decision will allow us to remove this problematic material from our waste stream. This necessary step will help us as we continue to move towards our goal of sending zero waste to landfills.”

Garcia added that the sanitation department will begin outreach and education work to make sure all businesses in the city are aware of the new rule.