IDEAS For Us | January 12, 2015

New York City Bans Styfofoam

rsz_nyc_styrofoam_memeNew York City has now followed in the lead of other cities like Portland and San Francisco by banning single-use styrofoam containers. These containers are incredibly popular within the metropolitan area as they are used heavily in the service of take-out food. Since this form of packaging cannot be recycled and New Yorkers produce more solid waste at a faster rate than they ever have in human history, this is a huge win for sustainability.

Though environmentalists are happy with this decision, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb disagrees believing the ban will hurt upstate New York businesses. Under this prohibition, manufacturers, restaurants and stores will no longer be able to possess, sell or offer single-serve styrofoam containers.

Companies and organizations with less than $500,000 in annual revenue could be eligible for an exemption if they show proof that using products in place of styrofoam creates an “undue financial hardship.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the ban last week and said in a statement, “These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. 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 Styrofoam ban stems from a law passed in December 2013 that gave officials one year to determine whether EPS (expanded polystyrene) could be recycled in a safe, environmental effective and economically feasible matter. According to the mayor’s office, the Department of Sanitation determined it cannot.

“NYC is now the largest city in the country to ban EPS foam, and we hope this will inspire others to do the same. This ban will improve our rivers and waterfront and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean with its rich fisheries and marine life,” said Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Nilda Mesa. “The ban on EPS foam products marks another step forward as we work toward an even greener, more sustainable NYC — from cleaner air and dramatically reduced emissions, to now ending the sale and use of non-biodegradable products like EPS foam. As New Yorkers, we all breathe the same air and drink from the same water supply; we must leave a legacy that will make our kids proud.”

The ban goes in to effect on July 1, 2015.