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Queens Chronicle

Ban on polystyrene now being enforced

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 10:30 am

The city on Monday began enforcement of its ban on the sale and distribution of products made of polystyrene foam, the most popular of which goes by the name Styrofoam.

July 1 marked the end of a six-month warning period that began Jan. 1.

“Foam cannot be recycled, plain and simple,” Acting Sanitation Commissioner Steven Costas said in a reminder sent out by the DSNY. “When foam enters our waste stream, it becomes a source of neighborhood litter and can end up on our beaches and in our waterways. It’s hazardous to marine life and can clog storm drains. It’s even a contaminant in our recycling and organics programs.”

The city has been conducting an outreach program to businesses that formerly relied on foam serving containers, plates, drinking cups, coolers and trays.

The city has been encouraging businesses to switch over to compostable or recyclable materials, such as paper, plastic and aluminum. The ban also extends to the sale of foam packing peanuts that are used to cushion fragile objects that are shipped or mailed. A DSNY representative told the Chronicle after the bill passed last year that residents who receive the peanuts in a package they receive can throw them away in their regular trash.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) welcomed full implementation of the law.

“Reducing our waste is vital to the health of our planet and our city,” he said. “Single-use foam has littered our streets, sidewalks and parks or ended up in our landfills for too long.”

Businesses covered by the ban include food service establishments, mobile food commissaries and stores that sell or use foam items and manufacturers and distributors of polystyrene foam packaging.

Nonprofits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in gross income for the most recent tax year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services if they can prove the purchase of alternative products would create a financial hardship.

More information is available at nyc.gov/foamwaiver.

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