June 12 - NYC Introduces Polystyrene Foam Ordinance

New York City, our country's largest city and home to more than 8.3 million people, has introduced an ordinance to ban polystyrene foam food containers and packaging peanuts.

If adopted, starting July 1, 2015, the sale or distribution of single-use food service items made from expanded polystyrene, often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam (a trademark name for non-food foam packaging), would be prohibited in the Big Apple. Meat and prepackaged food items are exempt.

In addition, foam packaging peanuts, already banned on the pristine continent of Antarctica and in several California cities, would also be prohibited from sale.

First time violators would be subject to a $250 fine, increasing to $1000 by the third and subsequent violations (per day).

Expanded polystyrene (eps) poses an environmental problem. It is a material that never degrades, is easily airborne, and prone to breaking into small pieces that are difficult to clean up. Eps particles are costly to clean up and can be mistaken for food by wildlife.

There is also human health issue, especially to those working in the eps manufacturing industry. A component of the material, styrene, is a likely carcinogen particularly during the production stage.

The ordinance will be heard first in the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management. Track the ordinance here.

Contact the five council members on the Sanitation Committee and urge them to support the ordinance.