Statewide Ban on Expanded Polystyrene Foam Containers Starts

New York’s ban on expanded polystyrene foam containers and loose fill packaging, commonly referred to as ‘packing peanuts,’ begins Jan. 1, 2022. Initially, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will focus its efforts on outreach and education to ensure a smooth transition for affected stakeholders, but expect enforcement to follow.

New York’s ban prohibits any person engaged in the business of selling or distributing prepared food or beverages for on- or off-premises consumption from selling, offering for sale, or distributing disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging in the state. Disposable food service containers made of expanded polystyrene foam banned under the law include bowls, cartons, hinged “clamshell” containers, cups, lids, plates, trays, or any other product designed or used to temporarily store or transport prepared foods or beverages, including containers generally recognized as designed for single use.

Covered food service providers may be eligible to request a hardship waiver if they meet the following criteria: have an annual gross income under $500,000 per location; do not operate 10 or more locations in New York State; and are not operated pursuant to a franchise agreement. Retail or wholesale stores that sell expanded polystyrene foam food and beverage containers or loose fill packaging are not eligible to apply for financial hardship waivers.