Businesses, agencies, institutions, and non-profits can’t sell, distribute, or use single-use foam items in New York City.

Banned products include single-service items such as:

  • Cups
  • Bowls
  • Plates
  • Takeout containers
  • Trays
  • Packing peanuts (foam loose fill packaging)
  • Coolers

The ban does not apply to residents.

Learn more about the City's foam ban. 

If you have questions, you can email

Affected businesses, nonprofits, agencies, and institutions include any establishment that sells or uses single-use Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and is located or operates within New York City.

Establishments include, but are not limited to:

  • Cafes, delis, and coffee shops
  • Cafeterias
  • Catering and event spaces
  • Fast food and take-out restaurants
  • Foam manufacturers and distributors
  • Food service establishments, including full-service restaurants
  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Hardware and homeware stores
  • Hospitals and medical centers
  • Retail, discount, and dollar stores
  • Schools, universities, and colleges
  • Vending trucks and food carts
  • Wholesale stores and wholesale clubs

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is used to make a variety of single-service foam items covered by the City’s foam ban.

Banned foam products include, but are not limited, to:

  • Cups
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Trays
  • Takeout containers
  • Packing peanuts (foam loose fill packaging)
  • Coolers made of foam

Recycling numbers or chasing arrows symbol located on some foam products does not determine whether an item is banned. If the product is made from expanded polystyrene foam as defined in the law and it looks and feels like polystyrene foam, it is prohibited.

Styrofoam is made of extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) and is just one type of polystyrene foam. Styrofoam has been incorrectly used as a generic term to refer to all foam products.

Exceptions to the Ban

The following items are not banned from sale or use:

  • Containers used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed before they are received by the food service establishment, mobile cart (food cart), or store
  • Containers used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood, or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar retail appliance
  • Foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping and receiving

Instead of using foam, you can use:

  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum
  • Compostable products
  • Reusable/returnable/refillable containers

For more information, contact your packaging distributor or supplier.

The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) accepts applications for hardship waivers.

To apply for a hardship waiver, you must:

  • Be a small business, not part of a chain, with less than $500,000 in revenue per year, per location, or a non-profit of any size
  • Have proof that purchases of alternative products that are not composed of Expanded Polystyrene (or EPS) would create excessive financial hardship

Learn more about the hardship waiver application.

To check the status of your application, send an email to

What You Can Report

You can file a complaint against mobile food vendors or food retailers who use or sell single-use foam products, such as cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers, trays, and packing peanuts.

Food vendors include food trucks and mobile food carts.

Food retailers include:

  • Fast food or full-service restaurants
  • Delis, cafes, or coffee shops
  • Grocery, retail, or wholesale stores

What You Need

Your report must include:

  • Business name and location
  • Types of products being used or sold

What Happens Next

If the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) finds that the establishment is violating the foam ban, the business may be fined:

  • $250 for the first offense
  • $500 for the second offense
  • $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses

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