As of January 1, residents and businesses in New York State will no longer be able to use polystyrene foam (commonly known as Styrofoam) packaging under a new state law.
Thomas Szabo, Warren County Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator, urged county residents and business owners to begin preparing for the new law. Amid worldwide supply chain issues, businesses should look to purchase non-polystyrene foam cups, food containers and non-Styrofoam packing materials in preparation for January 1.
“We may have to alter our routines a bit going forward, but please know that this is a good change for the environment,” explained Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer, past Chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Real Property and Environmental Concerns Committee. “Styrofoam packaging contributes to microplastic pollution and takes up space in landfills for decades. Banning its use will move us down a path to using more sustainable materials.”
Under the new law, banned polystyrene foam items will include many food service items like bowls, cups, clam shells, and plates as well as packing peanuts and other void-filling packing material.
The law allows exceptions for packaging for raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry, or fish sold for the purpose of cooking or preparing by the customer, and prepackaged food filled or sealed prior to sale.
While most companies will be required to switch to alternative containers, please note that paper food service products are not accepted in most recycling systems due to variability in plastic coatings.
Said Thomas Szabo: “This is a great time to start using items like travel mugs for coffee and reusable storage containers for leftovers when dinning out. More and more locations that sell coffee are offering a small discount if you bring your own reusable mug, to encourage actions that align with their environmental goals and in some cases make self-serve coffee more efficient. For example, at Stewart’s Shops you can fill up a reusable mug of up to 32 ounces for $1.30 (plus tax), while Starbucks offers an in-store discount of 10 cents if you bring your own cup or mug.”
You can find more information online about the law here, including information about waivers for some types of businesses.
Several other Northeast states and New York City have already banned use of polystyrene foam food packaging and packing materials.
Warren County residents or business owners who have questions about the law can contact Szabo at (518)-824-8839 or email@example.com.