Violators would be fined up to $2,000.

By Kelly Vaughan
December 19, 2019

More and more efforts are being made to create a cleaner, greener environment. Now, New York State has taken a big step towards reducing waste; Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a ban on single-use food and beverage containers, as well as packing peanuts, made from polystyrene foam (otherwise known as styrofoam). The proposed ban would go into effect on January 1, 2022. "From take-out containers to packing peanuts, this material is everywhere and it will continue to pollute our waters and harm our wildlife for generations to come if we do not act," Cuomo said in a statement.

Cardboard Box with Styrofoam
Credit: Daniel Grill/Getty Images

If the bill is passed, New York would be the third state to issue a ban against single-use styrofoam containers along with Maine and Vermont, as well as larger cities such as Berkeley, California, and New York City. The ban would exempt prepackaged food and packing materials for raw meat, fish, and eggs. Violators would face a $250 fine that would increase to $500, $1,000 and $2,000 for subsequent violations.

Styrofoam cannot be recycled and currently comprises an estimated 30 percent of landfill content. "The polystyrene itself is non-biodegradable so it poses a lot of hazards to human health and our environment," said Kate Kurera, Deputy Director of Environmental Advocates of New York, who estimates that there are three million tons of polystyrene produced each year in the U.S. If and when styrofoam does break down, it turns into microplastics which can be ingested by wild birds, according to Audubon New York.

It's anticipated that restaurants will be impacted the most by the proposed ban, but the bill would allow people to bring their own reusable containers to a restaurant to take home leftover food.


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