Go hide your packing peanuts, foam cups, trays, plates, and clamshell containers away in whatever secret camouflaged safe you use to stash contraband. The New York City styrofoam ban went into full effect on July 1st, meaning it’s now a crime to sell, possess, or distribute single-use polystyrene. New York is the largest city in the country to implement this ban, which marks an environmentalist victory.
Officials say the material can’t be recycled, and so it ends up clogging landfills and piling onto the ocean’s many giant rafts of floating garbage, damaging the environment. As Mayor de Blasio, who first announced the ban in January, said in a release:
These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less. By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today’s announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City.
There’s a six-month grace period before businesses will incur fines for using foam. The city’s restaurants, manufacturers, and schools, all frequent foam users, have had to drastically change their practices since the ban’s first announcement in January, dealing with the potential financial burden of switching to more expensive plastic or compostable containers.
The school system was one of the biggest foam-wasters in the city–for years, New York City public school cafeterias have used more than 830,000 foam lunch trays every day. The Department of Education started replacing these styrofoam trays with compostable ones on May 1, and hopes to have made the full switch to sustainable trays by September. “In the school setting, this ban is a perfect opportunity to implement a shift away from single use to durable items, eliminating wastefulness and teaching an important lesson to the next generation,” Christine Datz-Romero, Executive Director of the Lower East Side Ecology Center, told Pix11.
So take one last long look at this beautiful styrofoam container and say goodbye.
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