Starting Jan. 1, food containers and packing materials made of polystyrene foam — known by most as Styrofoam, which is a brand name — will be banned in New York state • Full Story
Starting Jan. 1, food containers and packing materials made of polystyrene foam — known by most as Styrofoam, which is a brand name — will be banned in New York state.
So, “covered food service providers” — restaurants, food trucks and carts, grocery stores, hospitals and other health care facilities, and elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities — will not be able to sell food in polystyrene foam bowls, cartons, hinged “clamshell” containers and cups designed for single use, the state Department of Environmental Conservation notes on its website.
And retailers and manufacturers won’t be able to nestle items in polystyrene loose fill, commonly known as packing peanuts.
The new rule, included in the 2020 state budget, does not apply to packaging used for raw meat or fish or to prepackaged food that is sealed before it gets to a covered food service provider.
Environmentalists have praised the measure, saying it will cut down on products made of the non-biodegradable material.
But some Republicans and the polystyrene industry say it will put people out of work.
“New York’s decision will likely result in the loss of up to 2,000 state-based manufacturing jobs and hurt small businesses, particularly restaurants, and consumers that are in crisis,” Oma Terrie, plastics division director for the Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group, said in April 2020.
Some covered food providers can apply for a hardship waiver. They include community meal programs, food pantries and places of worship. Businesses can too, if they have annual gross income of less than $500,000 per location, do not have more than 10 locations in New York and are not franchises. The hardship waiver form can be found at dec.ny.gov.
Earlier in 2021, Wegmans Food Markets stopped selling its brand of eggs in polystyrene foam containers in favor of cartons made from 100% recycled newsprint and paper products.
Switching to those cartons, which also are recyclable, compostable and biodegradable, will eliminate 625,000 pounds of polystyrene foam from Wegmans stores annually, the company said in a statement.
It added that its overall goal is to reduce in-store plastic packaging made from fossil fuels and other single-use plastics by 10 million pounds by 2024.
“We are eliminating foam packaging wherever possible,” Jason Wadsworth, packaging and sustainability category merchant for Wegmans, said in the statement. “It’s not widely recyclable and never will be.”