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Polystyrene Foam Ban

The Public comment period for the Proposed Part 353 Regulations is now closed.

DEC provides outreach materials regarding the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban.

Waiver Request Form (PDF, 2 MB) now available.

Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban

In 2020, New York State adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts.

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. In addition, foam containers and loose fill packaging, such as packing peanuts, are not accepted in most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle and has a low value. For these reasons, certain expanded polystyrene foam products will be banned in New York to protect the environment, our communities, and to support sustainable materials management.

Effective Date
January 1, 2022.

Foam Ban

Under the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban, (link leaves DEC's website) effective January 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. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state.

Covered Food Service Providers

A covered food service provider is any person engaged in the business of selling or distributing prepared food or beverages for on-premises or off-premises consumption.

Examples of covered food service providers include:

  • Food service establishments, caterers, temporary food service establishments, mobile food service establishments and pushcarts as defined in the New York State Sanitary Code; (link leaves DEC's website)

  • Retail food stores as defined in article 28 of the Agriculture and Markets Law; (link leaves DEC's website)

  • Delis;

  • Grocery stores;

  • Restaurants;

  • Cafeterias;

  • Coffee shops;

  • Hospitals, adult care facilities, and nursing homes; and

  • Elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.

Stores and Distributors

In addition to covered food service providers, no store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers or loose fill packaging that contains expanded polystyrene foam, in New York state. This includes any non-food retail or wholesale establishment.

Manufacturers

No person, firm, or corporation that produces or imports expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging in New York state.

Containers and Packaging Affected Under the Ban

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.

Exemptions

This law does NOT apply to:

  • 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;

  • 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 (link leaves DEC's website); and

  • Any county that enacts a polystyrene ban by local law, ordinance, or regulation that provides environmental protection equal to or greater than the state law and the county files a written declaration with DEC. All other local laws are preempted by state law.

Please e-mail foamban@dec.ny.gov with questions about how the statewide ban may affect local laws, ordinances, and regulations or for information about filing a written declaration with DEC.

Alternatives

Under the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Loose Fill Packaging Ban, disposable food service containers and loose fill packaging that contain expanded polystyrene foam will be banned. Any alternative may be used, as long as the alternative food/ beverage container or packaging product does not contain expanded polystyrene foam. DEC encourages the use of reusable, recyclable, and compostable items, source reduction and items made using recycled content where possible.

Hardship Waiver

Covered food service providers and facilities that meet certain criteria may apply for a renewable 12-month financial hardship waiver of these requirements from DEC.

Waiver Eligibility

Any facility, regardless of its income, operated by a not-for-profit corporation or by a federal, state, or local government agency that provides food and meals to food insecure individuals at no or nominal charge, may request a financial hardship waiver of the requirements of the law.

Examples include:

  • Community meal programs;

  • Food pantries; and

  • Places of worship.

Covered food service providers that may also request 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 pursuant to a franchise agreement.

Waiver Request

Hardship waivers may be granted for one or more disposable food service containers to a covered food service provider that demonstrates that there is no alternative product of comparable cost that is not composed of expanded polystyrene foam, and the purchase or use of an alternative product would create an undue financial hardship.

  • Waiver Form (PDF, 2 MB): This form may be used by Covered Food Service Providers and Facilities who would like to request a waiver from the requirements of the Law.

Translated waiver request available in: Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Yiddish, Bengali, Korean, Haitian Creole, Italian, Arabic, Polish

Regulations

DEC is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to implement the provisions of the new law.

Please check back to this webpage or sign up with the link below to receive updates regarding regulations.

Foam Free NY Outreach Materials

These educational resources about NY's Foam Ban are available for download.

Guidance and Resources

Alternative Container and Packaging Guidance (The following links leave DEC's website)

PFAS Packaging Guidance (The following links leave DEC's website)

Effective December 31, 2022, the prohibition on PFAS in food packaging (ECL Article 37, Title 2) will ban the distribution and sale, in New York, of food packaging that contains intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Under this law, the term "intentionally added" means that the chemical "serves an intended function in the product component,", and, therefore, includes such chemicals as water-proofing or grease-proofing agents. This restriction applies to food packaging intended for direct food contact that is comprised mainly of paper, paperboard, or other materials originally derived from plant fibers. And further, under the definitions of this law, the term "package" includes items such as carrying cases, crates, cups, pails, trays, wrappers, bags and tubs.

As such, purchasers should avoid paper, paperboard, or molded fiber food packaging where PFAS has been added to provide water-proofing, grease-proofing, or other functions. The best source of information on whether food packaging contains intentionally-added PFAS is likely to be the packaging manufacturer or supplier.

Center for Environmental Health Single-Use Foodware Guidance

PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging Report- Safer Chemicals Healthy Families

For Schools (The following link leaves DEC's website)

Ditching Disposables: A Toolkit for Healthier Foodware in K-12 Schools

Waste Reduction (The following link leaves DEC's website)

Going Zero Waste: A How to Guide For Businesses- NYS Pollution Prevention Institute

For Residents (The following links leave DEC's website)

Recycle Right NY Recyclopedia - how to recycle takeout containers and packing materials

Trash Free Waters- US Environmental Protection Agency
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation- Microplastics and Marine Debris video

Please check back to this page in the coming months for additional helpful resources.

Questions?

More information will be available on this page in the coming months. Please contact foamban@dec.ny.gov for immediate questions.

Stay Up To Date

To get the latest information, sign up to receive Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Loose Fill Packaging Ban information. When you sign up, you can expect to receive information on the following (depending on your interest):

  • Upcoming stakeholder meetings;

  • Proposed and published regulations;

  • Guidance and educational material; and

  • Instructions for submitting a waiver.