The five boroughs are no longer so Styrofoam-friendly.
Starting today, restaurants, food carts and delis are prohibited from giving out or selling Styrofoam or expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam products, including cups, takeout containers and packing peanuts.
Though the ban kicks in Wednesday, businesses will have until January 1 to fully do away with the foam before facing fines.
“While much of the waste we produce can be recycled or reused, polystyrene foam is not one of those materials,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in January when the ban was announced. “Removing polystyrene from our waste stream is not only good for a greener, more sustainable New York, but also for the communities who are home to landfills receiving the City’s trash.”
Other U.S. cities, including Seattle and Minneapolis, have passed similar bans, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said he hopes that more cities will “follow our lead,” especially because sustainable alternatives like paper, aluminum or plastic will “become more plentiful and will cost less,” he said in the news release.
The ban — proposed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013 — had faced opposition from many restaurant advocacy groups, which claimed the ban was fiscally and environmentally irresponsible.
However, Michael Schatzberg, managing Director of branded Restaurants which works with NYC eateriers such as City Crab and Big Daddy’s, said the switch will be better in the long-run.
“When we first switched over, the biggest burden we faced was absorbing the higher costs of these new products into our delivery,” he said. “However, today, there are so many companies offering economical solutions that I don’t believe the burden of cost will weigh the same.
Any kind of change can be problematic for businesses, he said, “but then once you find a new solution, you forgot the bite every happened.”
Small businesses or nonprofits with less than $500,000 in annual revenue may be exempt from the ban if they file for a Hardship Waiver and prove that switching to an alternative products would cause an undue financial burden.
The ban stems from a unanimously-passed City Hall law in 2013 mandating a study into the matter. The Department of Sanitation determined that the EPS found in single-use products such as packing peanuts, takeout containers and plates could not be integrated into the city’s curbside recycling system, sparking the ban.