After a five-year lobbying and litigation effort from the plastics industry to upend the city’s environmental initiative, New York City has officially become the largest jurisdiction in the United States to ban polystyrene foam food and beverage containers. The policy went into effect on January 1stt.

The City Council authorized the statute that states NYC restaurants, food vendors and stores can’t possess, sell or offer polystyrene foam containers for food and beverages back in 2013. Stores also can’t sell or offer “packing peanuts,” which is polystyrene foam used in shipping. They added the ban on the peanuts because they are difficult for both consumers and sanitation officials to dispose of sustainably.

A six-month warning period to make necessary changes before the sanitation department starts to enforce the ban have been provided for businesses. After June 30th, violators will be facing a $250 fine for their first offense.

Many establishments have already abandoned polystyrene containers and switched to more eco-friendly options already. Some of the substitutes are containers made from aluminum, compostable paper or easily-recycled plastics.

Polystyrene foam food and beverage containers have been an environmental problem because of their brittle composition, which means they break down into tiny pieces and litter streets and beaches. The foam gets washed into waterways and are a great danger to Aquatic life. Even when they get to a landfill, they can survive for over a century.

The price of more environmentally-friendly containers is nearly the same as the polystyrene foam. However, if businesses with an annual gross income under $500,000 can’t find a substitute with a comparable price, they can obtain a waiver from the ban.

Via: Inhabitat

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