NYS Foam Ban: What You Need to Know
Beginning January 1, 2022, disposable food service containers made from expanded polystyrene foam will be banned from all use and sale in New York State. Below is important information related to restaurants and food service related businesses in regard to the foam ban, including details about fines, definitions, exemptions and waivers.
Transitioning to Non-Foam Alternatives
Regional Distributors, Inc. is committed to helping all of our customers transition to effective non-foam alternatives. Contact your Account Manager directly or fill out the form to the right to schedule a comprehensive product evaluation and review non-foam alternatives that support your specific budget, quality and satisfaction goals.
NYS Senate – Title 30: Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban
- What kind of containers will be banned? And when does the ban take effect?
- Are there any exemptions and waivers to the ban?
- Will fines be enforced for not adhering to the ban?
- What are the definitions of various terms mentioned in the title?
- Why is this ban being passed?
- How do I begin the transition to non-foam products at my business?
What kind of containers will be banned? And when does the ban take effect?
Expanded polystyrene foam containers and polystyrene loose fill packaging will be banned.
Disposable food service containers made of expanded polystyrene that will be banned under the law include bowls, cartons, hinged "clamshell" containers, cups, lids, plates, trays, or any other product designed or used to temporarily store or transport prepared foods or beverages, and includes any container generally recognized as designed for single use. Polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) will also be banned under the law.
Beginning January 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) shall sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in the state.
Beginning January 1, 2022, no manufacturer or store shall sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging in the state.
Visit the NYS Senate Title 30 web page for more information.
Are there any exemptions and waivers to the ban?
Yes. Section 27-3005 lists the following exemptions and waivers.
Exemptions – The title shall NOT apply to:
- Prepackaged food filled or sealed prior to receipt at a covered food service provider;
- Raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry or fish sold for the purpose of cooking or preparing off-premises by the customer;
- Food service containers made from rigid polystyrene resin that has not been expanded, extruded, or foamed (e.g., clear plastic containers marked with a #6 resin identifier);
- A city with a population of one million or more which has a local polystyrene ban in place, including New York City.
Waivers – A financial hardship waiver of the title requirements may apply to:
Food service providers that meet certain criteria and facilities operated by a not-for-profit corporation or by a federal, state, or local government agency that provide food and meals to food insecure individuals may apply for a renewable 12-month hardship waiver of these requirements. Hardship waivers may be granted for one or more disposable food service containers to a covered food service provider that demonstrates there is no alternative product of comparable cost that is not composed of expanded polystyrene foam and that the purchase or use of an alternative product would create an undue financial hardship.
Examples of facilities operated by a not-for-profit corporation or by a federal, state, or local government agency that provide food and meals to food insecure individuals and may apply for a hardship waiver include:
- Soup kitchens and community meal programs;
- Food pantries; and
- Places of worship.
Food service providers that may also apply for a hardship waiver must meet the following criteria:
- Have an annual gross income under $500,000 per location;
- Do not operate 10 or more locations in New York State; and
- Are not operated according to a franchise agreement.
Visit the NYS Senate Title 30: Exemptions and Waivers web page for more information.
Will fines be enforced for not adhering to the ban?
Yes. A first-time New York State offender would pay a $250 fine. Fines would increase for repeat violators, from $500 for a second offense to $1,000 for a third-time offender and $2,000 for a fourth violation.
Visit the NYS Governor: Banning the Use of Single-Use Styrofoam Food Containers in New York State web page for more information.
What are the definitions of various terms mentioned in the title?
The following definitions are listed on the NYS Senate Title 30: Definitions web page.
For the purposes of this title, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- "Covered food service provider" means a person engaged in the business of selling or distributing prepared food or beverages for on-premise or off-premise consumption including but not limited to: (a) food service establishments, caterers, temporary food service establishments, mobile food service establishments, and pushcarts as defined in the New York State Sanitary Code; (b) retail food stores as defined in article 28 of the agriculture and markets law; (c) delicatessens; (d) grocery stores; (e) restaurants (including caterers and food trucks); (f) cafeterias; (g) coffee shops; (h) hospitals, adult care facilities, and nursing homes; and (i) elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
- "Disposable food service container" means a bowl, carton, clamshell, cup, lid, plate, tray, or any other product that is designed or used for the temporary storage or transport of a prepared food or beverage including a container generally recognized by the public as being designed for single use.
- "Expanded polystyrene foam" means expanded foam thermoplastics utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques. Such term shall not include rigid polystyrene.
- "Manufacturer" means every person, firm or corporation that produces or imports polystyrene loose fill packaging that is sold, offered for sale, or distributed in the state.
- "Polystyrene loose fill packaging" means a void-filling packaging product made of expanded polystyrene foam that is used as packaging fill, commonly referred to as packing peanuts.
- "Prepared food" means food or beverages that are cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, heated, squeezed, combined or otherwise prepared on the premises of a covered food service provider for immediate consumption and require no further preparation to be consumed. Prepared food includes but is not limited to ready to eat takeout foods and beverages.
- "Rigid polystyrene" means plastic packaging made from rigid, polystyrene resin that has not been expanded, extruded, or foamed.
- "Store" means a retail or wholesale establishment other than a covered food service provider.
Why is this ban being passed?
Per the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website, polystyrene is a concern for the environment, as well as human health and safety. It is difficult to recycle and one of the top 10 contributors of environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and other natural resources, as well as littering communities and natural areas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program has listed styrene, a chemical found in expanded polystyrene foam, as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen that can be transferred from expanded polystyrene foam containers into food and beverages that people consume. To protect people and the environment, certain expanded polystyrene foam products will be banned in New York.
How do I begin the transition to non-foam products at my business?
Regional Distributors, Inc. is currently assisting numerous local schools, colleges, restaurants and food service establishments transition to non-foam alternatives. Contact your Account Manager directly or fill out the form at the top to schedule a comprehensive product evaluation and review non-foam alternatives that support your specific budget, quality and satisfaction goals.