Styrofoam to Be Banned in New York City Beginning July 1
This article was updated on Jan. 9 at 9 a.m.
New Yorkers have fewer than six months to say goodbye to their Styrofoam cups.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that all plastic-foam containers and packaging will be banned from New York City as of July 1. Restaurants, stores and manufacturers will no longer be allowed to possess, sell or offer items made with expanded polystyrene (EPS).
The ban on Styrofoam stems from a law passed in December 2013 that gave officials a year to determine whether EPS could be recycled in a safe, environmental effective and economically feasible matter. According to the mayor's office, the Department of Sanitation determined it cannot.
It's a decision Dart Container and other foam manufacturers were desperate to avoid. In November 2013, Dart offered to clean waste from used foam in New York City, then buy the used products back from the city and recycle the material at a plant in Indiana. Dart was among the companies reportedly consulted in lead-up to the ban, and continues to disagree with the allegation that foam foodservice products are not recylable.
"As a result of the Commissioner’s decision, taxpayers will continue to pay to landfill foam and solid polystyrene," said Dart's Corporate Director of Recycling Programs Michael Westerfield said in a statement. "It also prevents these recyclable materials from being used in the manufacture of new products. As we have repeatedly demonstrated to the Commissioner, there is a strong, existing market for recycled polystyrene."
In a statement Thursday, Mayor de Blasio called for other cities to echo New York's ban. “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."
The mayor found a somewhat surprising ally in the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA). In the past, franchises and restaurants have criticized Styrofoam bans as expensive and unproductive. However, NYSRA came out in support of the ban.
"The New York State Restaurant Association appreciates the efforts of the NYC Department of Sanitation and the Mayor's Office to enact legislation that moves our industry toward sustainability while recognizing the needs of small businesses via a long transition period and a commitment to educate businesses on alternatives before fining them," said Chris Hickey, Regional Director NYC of the NYSRA, in a statement.
Dunkin' Donuts, which relies heavily on Styrofoam cups, said its New York City-based restaurants will comply with the ban. The coffee giant will also continue to examine alternatives to foam products. “We are currently testing a double walled paper cup and a #5 recyclable polypropylene cup in limited markets. We will continue to explore and test additional materials as they become available,” Michelle King, senior director of global public relations at Dunkin' Brands, said in a statement.
The law allows for a six-month grace period, meaning no bans can be imposed until Jan. 1, 2016. In the meantime, New York City government will be conducting outreach and education programs.
Tell Us: Is the NYC Styrofoam ban environmentally necessary or economically foolish? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.