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New York City Bans Single-Use Polystyrene

New York City has banned single-use expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam items and packaging, starting July 1.

The city Department of Sanitation (DSNY) determined that EPS foam cannot be recycled. When the ban takes effect manufacturers and stores may not sell or provide single-use foam items such as cups, plates, trays or clamshell containers in the city. The city also is banning the sale of polystyrene loose-fill packaging such as packing peanuts, according to a city news release.

“These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less.”

The DSNY consulted with corporations, including Dart Container Corp., non-profits, vendors and other stakeholders. The DSNY also concluded from the research that there is no market for post-consumer EPS in a curbside recycling program.

The city passed a law in December 2013 that called for the sanitation commissioner to determine whether EPS single-serve articles can be recycled at the city’s designated recycling facility. If the department determined that polystyrene can’t be recycled, it must be banned.

The law allows businesses a six-month grace period from when the law goes into effect to when fines can be imposed. In the first year of the ban, businesses will be given a warning rather than a fine. Some smaller businesses may apply for hardship exemptions.

The Coalition to Put a Lid on It NYC expressed disappointment in the decision, saying embracing recycling of the material instead would save millions of dollars for city businesses and establish the largest recycling program in the country for expanded polystyrene and No. 6 rigid plastics, according to its news release.

It also said Dart provided evidence to New York City of the recyclability of polystyrene.


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