The City’s ban on single-use foam products went into effect January 1, 2019. Businesses can no longer sell, distribute, or use single-use foam items.  

Banned products include single-service items, such as:

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

The restriction on the sale, possession or use of banned foam products is only for businesses, agencies, institutions, and non-profits outlined in the law. The restriction is not intended for residents.

Learn more about the City's foam ban. 

You can also email commercialprograms@dsny.nyc.gov for more information.

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

Establishments include but are not limited to:

  • Food service establishments, including ull-service restaurants
  • Fast food and Take-Out Restaurants
  • Cafes, Delis and Coffee Shops
  • Catering and Event Spaces
  • Grocery Stores and Supermarkets
  • Vending Trucks and Food Carts
  • Cafeterias 
  • Hardware and Homeware Stores
  • Wholesale Stores and Wholesale Clubs
  • Retail, Discount, and Dollar Stores 
  • Foam Manufactures and Distributors
  • Schools, Universities, and Colleges
  • Hospitals and Medical Centers

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

EPS can be made into a wide variety of solid plastics or foam.
 
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.

Recycle Logo on Foam Products

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.

Alternatives to Foam Products

Alternative packaging options include:

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

For alternatives to foam products, you can contact your packaging distributor or supplier.

You can also view the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board’s (MSWAB) list of Foam Alternative Product Suggestions.

Exceptions to Foam 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

Businesses had until December 31, 2018, to use their existing foam items and find alternatives. As of January 1, 2019, businesses can no longer sell, distribute, use, or provide food in Polystyrene foam single-service items.

Also, manufacturers and stores in the City cannot sell or offer for sale Polystyrene loose fill packaging, also known as packing peanuts.

Enforcement for non-compliance will begin on July 1, 2019.

Issuance of Violations

Businesses have a warning period from January 1, 2019 until June 30, 2019. Complaints can be submitted during the warning period and establishments will receiving a warning notice.

Beginning July 1, 2019, establishments found in violation of the foam ban will receive fines for each Notice of Violation issued within a 12-month period in the following amounts: 

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

The NYC Foam Ban will be enforced by:

  • Department of Sanitation (DSNY)
  • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)
  • Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)

The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) began accepting applications for hardship waivers in Fall 2018.

In order to apply for a hardship waiver, you must meet the following criteria:

  • 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

To check the status of your submitted Hardship Waiver, send an email to: foamwaiver@sbs.nyc.gov.

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

Mobile food vendors include vending trucks and food carts.

Food retailers include:

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

In order to file a complaint, it will be helpful to provide the following: 

  • Business Name
  • Business address (if reporting a food retailer)
  • Type of products being used

After the complaint and inspections, establishments will be given a warning flyer from January 1st to June 30th. Violations will be issued starting July 1st.

The Department of Sanitation will respond within 3-7 business days.

Call 311 to report the problem.