On January 1st, 2023, NY State celebrated the one year anniversary of the start of the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban.
Polystyrene foam is a concern for people and the environment. It is a top contributor of environmental litter and is not accepted in most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle and has a low value.
Covered food service providers can no longer use foam bowls, cartons, hinged “clamshell” containers, cups, lids, plates, trays, and other single-use foam containers designed or used for prepared food and beverages.
Examples of food service providers:
- food service establishments;
- retail food stores;
- caterers and mobile food service establishments;
- grocery stores;
- coffee shops;
- hospitals, adult care facilities, and nursing homes; and
- elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
Retail and wholesale stores can no longer sell foam bowls, cartons, hinged “clamshell” containers, cups, lids, plates, trays, and other single-use foam containers designed or used for prepared food and beverages in NY State.
In addition, no manufacturer or store is allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute packing peanuts in the state.
Submit a complaint
If you observe banned foam containers or packing peanuts in your community, you may submit a complaint using the Polystyrene Foam Ban Complaint Form. Be aware that some covered food service providers and facilities have financial hardship waivers that allow them to use foam products.
Many foam-free alternatives exist and DEC encourages the use of reusable, recyclable, and compostable items, source reduction, and items made using recycled content where possible. To learn about different foam-free alternatives you can review DEC’s Foam Alternatives Reference Guide. To mark another milestone for containers and packaging, DEC has also begun implementing a prohibition on intentionally-added PFAS in food packaging.
Photo of fast food packaging floating in a river provided.