NEW YORK (NEWS10) – As of January 1, New York State residents and businesses will no longer be able to use Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS) packaging under new state law. Officials say New York’s ban will prohibit any person engaged in the business of selling or distributing disposable food service containers that contain EPS foam.

According to DEC, EPS foam is a major contributor to environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and natural resources. The lightweight EPS foam breaks apart easily and does not readily biodegrade, rendering it persistent in the environment to become microplastic pollution.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says EPS foam containers and loose-fill packaging are not accepted by most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle. DEC and partners continue outreach efforts to advise affected entities about the ban, particularly sellers and distributors of disposable foodservice containers, such as retail food stores, restaurants, hospitals, and schools.

Examples of covered food service providers required to comply with the ban include:

  • Food service establishments, caterers, temporary food service establishments, mobile food service establishments, and pushcarts as defined in the New York State Sanitary Code
  • Retail food stores, as defined in Article 28 of the Agriculture and Markets Law, which include any establishment where food and food products are offered to the consumer and intended for off-premises consumption
  • Delis, grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops
  • Hospitals, adult care facilities, and nursing homes
  • Elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities

DEC said under the law, any facility, regardless of income, operated by a non-profit corporation or by a federal, state, or local government agency that provides food and meals to food-insecure individuals may request a financial hardship waiver of the requirements of the law. Examples include community meal programs, food pantries, and places of worship.