We all know that styrofoam food containers are bad for the environment. If you’re trying to recycle them, they’re also a gigantic pain in the ass, because a lot of facilities don’t accept them.

As of July 1st, NYC food establishments will be prohibited from using those foam plastic containers and cups, reports the New York Times. Those foam packing peanuts everyone knows and hates will no longer be sold within city limits as well, although residents can still receive them in packages that get mailed in from elsewhere.


Mayor de Blasio is expected to officially announce the ban later today, according to the New York Post. NYC officials said yesterday that expanded polystyrene foam of the type used in the offending food containers is not recyclable, and that no established markets currently exist where they can sell this waste product on for other uses.

Nilda Mesa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said in a statement: [pullquote]“Much of what fouls our waters starts out on land. [This ban] will improve our rivers and waterfront and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean, with its rich fisheries and marine life.”[/pullquote]

Officials stress that the ban will not be enforced until January 2016, in order to allow a reasonable period of time for vendors to adapt to the new rules. Additionally, nonprofits and businesses that have less than $500,000 in annual revenue may apply for exemptions from the rule. If they can prove that buying non-foam containers will present “undue financial hardship,” they’ll be found exempt.

City sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia told the New York Times

“This has been a movement that’s gone on for a very long time. Clearly, there are alternatives out there that are much more environmentally friendly.”

As some vendors have pointed out, styrofoam’s one big virtue is that it’s good at keeping hot foods hot. While many establishments have been moving away from old-school foam for years, new creative measures are going to be necessary if people want to keep consistently receiving hot food deliveries. Maybe Ingrid Kosar will come to the rescue with brave new insulated bag designs for things that aren’t pizza.

The styrofoam ban may actually be good for people for reasons that aren’t environmental, as well. A study in August 2014 that linked instant noodle consumption to certain heart risks specifically mentioned the bisphenol-A in styrofoam noodle cups as a culprit.

[via the New York Times]

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