Respecting the past, Building the future

Foam Ban Starts January 1 2019

An important alert for business owners in Astoria: Starting January 1, 2019, a ban on foam comes into effect. New York City stores and food-service businesses can no longer offer, sell or possess single-use foam food containers such as foam takeout clamshells, cups, plates, bowls and trays. Additionally, NYC manufacturers and stores may no longer sell or offer for sale loose fill packaging, such as packing “peanuts.”

This law was enacted because single-use foam items were found to be not recyclable, and these items are collected as trash in the city.  The ban begins January 1, 2019 and there will be a six-month grace period before fines will be imposed. Beginning July 1, 2019, businesses 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,

$1,000 for the third and subsequent offense.

Small businesses with less than $500,000 in gross income for the most recent tax year and non-profits may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products would create a financial hardship. For more information, visit nyc.gov/foamwaiver

Who is Affected by the Ban:

  • For-profit or not-for-profit: food service establishments, mobile food commissaries, and stores that sell or use foam items, and
  • Manufacturers and distributors of polystyrene foam packaging that are located or operate within any of the five boroughs of New York City.

 What is Covered by the Ban:

  • Single-service foam items including cups, bowls, plates, take-out containers and trays.
  • Foam loose fill packaging, commonly known as “packing peanuts”.

What is Not Covered:

  • Foam containers used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service establishment, mobile food commissary, or store.
  • Foam containers used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar appliance.
  • Foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping.

Alternatives that businesses can use include paper, plastic, aluminum and compostable products. DSNY encourages everyone to explore and use reusable, returnable and/or refillable containers. Contact your packaging distributor about alternatives to foam products.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Clare Doyle is a graduate of the M.A. program in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies as well as a B.A. in Archaeology and History from University Dublin, Ireland. She has worked for 30 years in library reference publishing in New York. Clare is the Vice President of Green Shores NYC, a non-profit group that advocates for a cleaner, greener and more connected waterfront in Astoria and Long Island City

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