Cuomo proposes single-use Styrofoam food container, packing peanuts ban

State Legislature

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 19: A styrofoam take-out container is viewed in a trash can on December 19, 2013 in New York City. New York’s City Council will vote Thursday on a bill that would see expanded polystyrene (EPS), or styrofoam, either banned or added to the city’s curbside recycling program. The current version of the bill would give the city’s sanitation commissioner until Jan. 1, 2015 to decide whether plastic foam is recyclable. The proposed ban has been met with resistance from the American Chemistry Council and Dart Container among other groups. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (WETM) — Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a ban on the distribution and use of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, single-use food containers by Jan. 1, 2022.

The proposal also bans the sale of expanded polystyrene packaging materials known as packing peanuts.

Additionally, the bill would authorize the State Department of Environmental Conservation to review and take action to limit or ban other packaging material upon a finding of environmental impact.

“Styrofoam is one of the most common pollutants and a public health hazard that impacts humans and the environment alike,” Governor Cuomo said. “From take-out containers to packing peanuts, this material is everywhere and it will continue to pollute our waters and harm our wildlife for generations to come if we do not act. With this proposal, we can build on our nation-leading initiatives to protect the environment and move New York another step closer to a greener, more sustainable future.” 

The new legislation will:

  • Ban the distribution and use of expanded polystyrene foam containers used for prepared foods or beverages served by food service establishments, including restaurants, caterers, food trucks, retail food stores, delis and grocery stores.
  • Ban the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, commonly known as packing peanuts.
  • Authorize the State Department of Environmental Conservation to take additional action to limit or ban other packaging material upon a finding of environmental impact.

The ban exempts prepackaged food sealed prior to receipt at a restaurant or food service establishment, as well as packaging for uncooked or raw meat, fish or eggs.

Violators will be penalized with a fine starting at $250. Second, third and fourth violations will be fined $500, $1,000 and $2,000 respectively.

The EPA estimates that the U.S. produces more than 3 million tons of polystyrene, which are non-biodegradable.

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