No more getting your food deliveries from a plastic foam container. The material has officially been banned from New York City as of Tuesday, January 1st. Food establishments will have until the end of June to start following with the new rule according to Grub Street.
Why is this material being banned? Well the reason the expanded polystyrene (or EPS) containers need to leave the city are because they "“cannot be recycled in a manner that is economically feasible, environmentally effective, and safe for employees as part of the City’s curbside recycling program," according to the city. This material is made by steaming beads of the polymer polystyrene until they expand to 50 times their original size says BBC. This process of creation makes it difficult to recycle.
The material is also problematic for our oceans. The polystyrene can get eaten by animals in the water causing a block in their digestive systems leading to starvation. It can also effect our health or people who eat fish and other sea creatures. If they are getting to this material we could possibly ingest the microplastics.
Our city's ban on polystyrene has been a length process. According to the New York Times’ the idea of banning the material was proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 and put into effect by Mayor de Blasio in 2015. Many restaurants came together to sue the city and a judge did rule that the city did not provide evidence to show that the containers definitely couldn't be recycled. The coalition did try and sue again when the city brought up the ban in 2017, but this time the judge ruled in favor of the city.
New York now joins many cities banning plastic foam products including, Chicago, Boston and Washing D.C.