The administration of New York City mayor Bill De Blasio announced today a ban on single-use styrofoam products starting on July 1st, 2015. The decision follows a long-awaited determination by the Department of Sanitation that Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is not a recyclable product. The new law prohibits NYC food service establishments, stores and manufacturers from possessing, selling or offer single-service EPS foam articles or polystyrene loose fill packaging in New York City.
The ban piggybacks legislation introduced in 2013 that restricted the sale and use of single-use polystyrene containers. This includes cups, food containers, and packing materials, and applies to sales in restaurants, coffee shops, food carts, and other establishments. Instead of going into effect back in 2013, the ban was delayed to give the city a chance to find a way to recycle the material.
The Department of Sanitation consulted with polystyrene manufacturers and vendors before reaching their final determination that there is not currently an effective method for recycling or reusing disused polystyrene. Mayor De Blasio is optimistic about the ban’s environmental impact. The law is expected to keep nearly 30,000 tons of EPS waste out of New York landfills and streets.
Although it’s possible that technological advances could make styrofoam recycling feasible, it’s too soon to speculate when such a process will be readily available for large metropolitan areas like New York. It’s also unknown whether future polystyrene recycling will be enough to convince city officials to bring foam cups and food containers back to the Big Apple.
Via a press release from the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio