The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed banning expanded polystyrene foam containers and loose fill packaging, commonly referred to as ‘packing peanuts.’ The regulation would go into effect January 1st, 2022.
The ban builds on New York’s other environmental measures such as the ban on plastic carryout bags, the bottle bill, and food scrap recycling and food waste prevention efforts. New York is among the first states to ban polystyrene packaging and fill. The DEC is accepting comments on the proposed regulations until November 22nd, 2021.
Expanded polystyrene foam, or EPS, is considered a major contributor to environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and natural resources. EPS foam does not readily biodegrade, rendering it persistent in the environment and susceptible to becoming microplastic pollution. In addition, EPS foam containers and loose fill packaging are not accepted by most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle, easily contaminates the recycling stream, is often soiled, and has low value.
Wegmans grocery stores had already announced at the beginning of September that they had moved from using polystyrene foam in its egg cartons.
The new cartons are made of 100% post-consumer recycled newsprint and paper products. The company said by making the switch from foam to molded fiber cartons, they will eliminate 625,000 pounds of foam from their stores every year.