Skip to main content

NYC Says Polystyrene Not Recyclable; ACC Disagrees

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has determined that Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is not recyclable and, therefore, the use of polystyrene food and beverage containers will be banned in New York City, effective July 1, 2015. The sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (i.e., "packaging peanuts") also will be banned. DSNY also suggested that there is not a market for post-consumer EPS collected in a curbside metal, glass, and plastic recycling program.

Local Law 142, passed by the City Council in December 2013, required the city's sanitation commissioner to determine "whether EPS single service articles can be recycled at the designated recycling processing facility at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in a manner that is environmentally effective, economically feasible, and safe for employees." Under the law, if DSNY determined that polystyrene was not recyclable, it would be banned. (For more information on the law, see the article, New York City Bans Polystyrene Food and Beverage Containers.)

The American Chemical Council (ACC) pointed out in a press release that the city's decision to not include polystyrene foam in its curbside recycling program will result in most alternative foodservice packaging being sent to landfills instead of being recycled.

Furthermore, ACC explained that nearly 140 companies process or use recycled foam packaging in the U.S. and Canada. "A U.S. maker of foam foodservice packaging even offered to help the city expand its recycling program to include foam packaging, including foodservice and protective packaging, in part by providing a guaranteed market for the material that would save money for the city," stated Mike Levy, Senior Director for ACC's Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group, in the release.