New York Single Service Expanded Polystyrene Ban Takes Effect on 1 January 2019

After years of delay, New York City’s ban on single use expanded polystyrene (EPS) will go into effect on 1 January 2019. EPS is defined in the rule as “blown polystyrene and expanded and extruded foams that are thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilising a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of polymer spheres (expandable bead foam), injection moulding, foam moulding, and extrusion-blown moulding (extruded foam polystyrene).” Rigid polystyrene is not included in the definition of EPS. Affected products include single-use food packaging materials and packing peanuts. Non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue can apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services if they can demonstrate that using an alternative product would cause an undue financial hardship. The New York City Departments of Sanitation, of Health and Mental Hygiene, and of Consumer Affairs each have the authority to enforce the ban, which carries penalties ranging from $250 for the first violation up to $1,000 for the third and each subsequent violation, but fines will not be issued during a grace period that ends on 1 July 2019. The original effective date for the ban was 1 January 2015, but implementation was delayed due to a lawsuit by industry. Industry was unsuccessful at challenging the city’s basis for the ban, which was that it is not environmentally effective or economically feasible to recycle EPS.

National Law Review, 6 December 2018 ;