Polystyrene Foam ban begins in New York State

New York State’s ban on the sale of polystyrene foam food service containers and loose fill packing materials went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Polystyrene foam, or expanded polystyrene (EPS), is often referred to as “Styrofoam™”. 

EPS has long been an environmental and waste management concern. Like other forms of single use plastic, EPS requires energy and oil to produce. The material takes up space in landfills, and cannot be recycled in most places (including Tioga County). When it makes its way into the recycling stream, EPS breaks apart and contaminates recyclable materials. It’s also one of the most common forms of litter found in the environment, according to a press release from Tioga County Solid Waste.

The State’s ban aims to eliminate the problem at the source and promote alternatives such as reusable, natural, recycled, or recyclable products. 

The ban applies to covered food service providers, which the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) lists as any person selling or distributing prepared food or beverages, including restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops, caterers, food trucks and street vendors, hospitals, schools, adult care facilities and nursing homes, cafeterias, hotels, motels and inns, community meal programs, sporting venues, amusement parks, summer camps, correctional facilities, and faith-based organizations; stores that sell or distribute single-use food service containers or loose fill packaging in New York State; and loose fill manufacturers who sell or distribute polystyrene foam loose fill in New York State. 

This law does NOT apply to raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry, or fish sold for the purpose of cooking or preparing off-premises by the customer; prepackaged food filled or sealed prior to receipt at a covered food service provider; food service containers made from rigid polystyrene resin that has not been expanded, extruded, or foamed (e.g., clear plastic containers marked with a #6 resin identifier).

Any facility, regardless of income, operated by a not-for-profit corporation or by a federal, state, or local  government agency that provides food and meals to food insecure individuals at no or nominal charge, may request a financial hardship waiver of the requirements of the law. 

Examples include community meal programs; food pantries; and places of worship. 

Covered food service providers that may also request a hardship waiver must meet the following criteria; an annual gross income under $500,000 per location; do not operate 10 or more locations in New York State; and are not operated pursuant to a franchise agreement. 

A waiver form can be found on the NYSDEC foam ban website, www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/120762.html.  

Email to foamban@dec.ny.gov with questions about how the statewide ban may affect local laws, ordinances and regulations, or for information about filing a written declaration with DEC. 

Renewable 12- month waivers can be applied for by not-for-profit and government agencies that provide food / meals to food-insecure individuals, and covered food service providers that are under a certain size. More information on waivers can be found on the NYSDEC website.  

You can reach out to Tioga County’s Sustainability Manager, Ellen Pratt, at pratte@tiogacountyny.gov or call (607) 687-8274 for assistance in obtaining a waiver.

The NYSDEC has more information available for businesses including the NYSDEC foam ban website, https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/120762.html; the NYS Foam Ban fact sheet, www.dec.ny.gov/fs/programs/press/FoamFreeNY/EnglishFlyersFactSheets/; and the EPS Alternatives Reference Guide, www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/epsrefguide.pdf.

Tioga County Solid Waste Department is available to support local businesses and organizations’ efforts to reduce waste, reuse, and recycling. Email to Ellen Pratt at pratte@tiogacountyny.gov for more information.

Be the first to comment on "Polystyrene Foam ban begins in New York State"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.