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New York City Bans Polystyrene Food and Beverage Containers

The New York City Council passed a bill, No. 1060-A, by a unanimous 51-0 vote, potentially prohibiting the use of polystyrene food and beverage containers by restaurants, food stands, and coffee shops, beginning July 1, 2015. . The polystyrene industry, which opposed the ban, has until January 1, 2015, however, to demonstrate to New York City's Sanitation Commissioner that polystyrene is recyclable "in a manner that is environmentally effective, economically feasible, and safe for employees." Provided that industry is successful, the Commissioner will be required to declare polystyrene recyclable and take steps to incorporate polystyrene into New York City's established recycling program. If industry is unable to prove recyclability, however, the ban will take effect as planned, on July 1, 2015. Industry would be permitted a 6-month grace period to completely eliminate usage before fines are imposed by the City.

New York City Council members addressed concerns expressed by small business owners over the high cost of polystyrene alternatives by incorporating a provision allowing small business owners and nonprofits earning less than $500,000 annually to apply for a hardship waiver, which would allow small businesses to continue using single-use polystyrene containers after the Effective Date. More information on the legislation can be found on the New York City Council website.