What You Need to Know: New York State’s ban on the use of polystyrene foam food service containers and loose fill packing materials went effect last saturday. Polystyrene foam, or expanded polystyrene (EPS), is often
referred to as Styrofoam™. Here is information related to the ban that residents and businesses can take
Why is the ban going into effect?
EPS has long been an environmental and waste management concern. Like other forms of single use
plastic, EPS requires energy and oil to produce. The material takes up space in landfills, and cannot be
recycled in most places (including Tioga County). When it makes its way into the recycling stream, EPS
breaks apart and contaminates recyclable materials. It’s also one of the most common forms of litter
found in the environment. The State’s ban aims to eliminate the problem at the source and promote
alternatives such as reusable, natural, recycled, or recyclable products.
Who does the ban affect?
The ban applies to covered food service providers, which the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as: Any person selling or distributing prepared food or beverages, including restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops, caterers, food trucks and street vendors, hospitals, schools, adult care
facilities and nursing homes, cafeterias, hotels, motels and inns, community meal programs, sporting
venues, amusement parks, summer camps, correctional facilitie, faith-based organizations, stores that sell or distribute single-use food service containers or loose fill packaging in New York State, loose fill manufacturers who sell or distribute polystyrene foam loose fill in New York State.
Exemptions and existing waivers under the law.
This law does NOT apply to:
Raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry, or fish sold for the purpose of cooking or preparing off-premises by the
Prepackaged food filled or sealed prior to receipt at a covered food service provider;
Food service containers made from rigid polystyrene resin that has not been expanded, extruded, or
foamed (e.g., clear plastic containers marked with a #6 resin identifier).
Any facility, regardless of income, operated by a not-for-profit corporation or by a federal, state, or local
government agency that provides food and meals to food insecure individuals at no or nominal charge,
may request a financial hardship waiver of the requirements of the law.
- Examples include:
Community meal programs; food pantries; and places of worship.
- Covered food service providers that may also request a hardship waiver must meet the following criteria:
An annual gross income under $500,000 per location, do not operate 10 or more locations in New York Stateand are not operated pursuant to a franchise agreement.
A waiver form can be found on the NYSDEC foam ban website:
Please e-mail [email protected] with questions about how the statewide ban may affect local laws,
ordinances, and regulations or for information about filing a written declaration with DEC. Renewable 12-
month waivers can be applied for by not-for-profit and government agencies that provide food/meals to
food-insecure individuals, and covered food service providers that are under a certain size. More
information on waivers can be found on the NYSDEC website.
You can also reach out to Tioga County’s Sustainability Manager Ellen Pratt at [email protected]
or 607-687-8274 for assistance in obtaining a waiver.