Get ready for big changes. In a few weeks foam plates, cups, food containers and more will be banned in New York.

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The New York State DEC is reminding all that starting Jan. 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York State.

DEC

In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging, often called packing peanuts, in the state.

DEC

Any single-use, disposable expanded polystyrene foam foodservice containers used for prepared food and beverages, including but not limited to: bowls, cartons, clamshells, cups, lids, plates and trays as well as packing peanuts or other void-filling, loose-fill packaging products made of expanded polystyrene foam will be banned.

DEC

"Polystyrene foam is a concern for people and the environment. Foam packaging is one of the top contributors of environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and other natural resources, as well as littering our communities and natural areas. It is lightweight, breaks apart easily, and does not readily biodegrade. When polystyrene foam ends up as litter in the environment, it can persist for a long time and may also become microplastic pollution," the DEC states.

DEC

Affected businesses and organizations include:

• Restaurants
• Grocery stores
• Delis
• Coffee shops
• Caterers
• Food trucks & street vendors
• Hospitals
• Schools
• Adult care facilities/
nursing homes
• Cafeterias
• Hotels, motels, & inns
• Community meal programs
• Sporting venues
• Amusement parks
• Summer camps
• Correctional facilities
• Faith-based organization

Getty Images

The new law will not apply for:

• Containers used for raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry, or fish sold for the purpose of cooking or preparing off-premises by the customer;
• Prepackaged food-filled or sealed prior to receipt at a covered food service provider;
• Hard plastic food service containers marked with a number 6 (Polystyrene–PS) that are not foam; and

Any container or packaging that does not contain expanded polystyrene foam, such as aluminum, rigid plastics, paper, glass, biobased, and compostable items may be used as an alternative.

State officials encourage the use of reusable, recyclable, compostable, and recycled-content containers and packaging when possible.

Covered food service providers and facilities that meet certain criteria may request a renewable 12-month financial hardship waiver from DEC. Determine if you are eligible, and download the waiver request form online.

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