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News & Press: Laws & Regulations

Polystyrene Ban in NYC Announced

Thursday, April 09, 2015  
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Beginning in July 2015, certain expanded polystyrene items will be banned from sale or use in NYC.


Thanks to the continued relationship between NYS Restaurant Association, the Mayor’s Office, and the DCA, we have begun receiving educational materials in advance of the expanded ban on polystyrene. NYSRA works tirelessly with city agencies to educate restaurant operators on City laws and our partnerships with the Mayor’s office and DCA are critical to saving our members money by helping them remain law compliant.

  • Polystyrene foam single-service items including cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers, and trays.
  • Polystyrene loose fill packaging, commonly known as packing peanuts.
  • Expanded polystyrene containers used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service establishment, mobile food commissary, or store.
  • Expanded polystyrene containers used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar retail appliance.
  • Foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping are not covered under this law.
  • Food service establishments, including full-service restaurants, fast food restaurants, cafes, delis, coffee shops, grocery stores, vending trucks, carts, cafeterias, and others.
  • Non-profits and small businesses (not part of a chain) with less than $500,000 in revenue per year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products not composed of EPS would create undue financial hardship. SBS will begin accepting applications for hardship waivers in Spring 2015.
  • Prior to July 1, 2015, food service establishments, mobile food commissaries, and stores must use up any existing inventory of expanded polystyrene foam items.
  • After July 1, 2015, these entities cannot sell, distribute, or use single service expanded polystyrene foam items. This includes providing food in these items. Additionally, manufacturers and stores cannot sell or offer for sale polystyrene loose fill packaging in the City.

There are many alternative packaging options available including paper, plastic, aluminum, and biodegradable products. Contact your packaging distributor about alternatives to foam products.

The NYS Restaurant Association will continue working with the Mayor’s Office and other New York City Departments to promote an education first approach to this issue and ensure Restaurateurs stay fully informed.


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