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New York City Poised To Ban Styrofoam Food Containers
A food cart worker filled a styrofoam take-out container for a customer in New York in 2013. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

New York City Bans Single-Use Styrofoam Products

Jan 08, 2015

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office in 2013, but his plan to ban styrofoam is finally coming to fruition.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced Thursday that stores, food service establishments and manufacturers won't be able to possess, sell or offer single-use styrofoam containers or cups — even "packing peanuts" — beginning July 1. The reason is purely environmental, as Expanded Polystyrene Foam cannot be recycled.

"These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less,” said de Blasio. “By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today’s announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City.”

The containers are popular not only in restaurants that offer a takeout option but also among the hundreds of food carts and trucks that populate New York's streets. Such vendors will have to seek out recyclable alternatives, though businesses with less than $500,ooo in annual revenue can apply for exemptions if using alternative containers would cause "undue financial hardship."

Though New York is the largest city to ban this type of "dirty foam," other cities including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland have enacted similar measures.

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