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February 13, 2019

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NYC enacts ban on single-use foam

As of Jan. 1, New York City stores, food service establishments and mobile food commissaries may no longer offer, sell or possess single-use foam food containers, according to the New York City Department of Sanitation. These include foam takeout clamshells, cups, plates, bowls and trays. Additionally, manufacturers and stores may no longer sell or offer for sale loose fill foam packaging (“packing peanuts”) in the city.

New York City enacted the ban after determining that dirty, postconsumer, single-service foam food and beverage containers cannot be recycled in a way that is economically feasible, environmentally effective and safe for employees as part of the city’s curbside recycling program.

Affected businesses, agencies and nonprofits will have a six-month warning period lasting through June 30. Following the warning period, Notices of Violation will be issued and civil action may be taken.

Beginning July 1, establishments found in violation of the foam ban will receive fines for each Notice of Violation issued within a 12-month period in the following amounts:

  • $250 for the first offense;
  • $500 for the second offense; and
  • $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Some exceptions include foam containers used for prepackaged food that were filled and sealed prior to the ban; foam containers used to store raw meat sold from a grocer; and foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping.