NYC Styrofoam Ban To Begin On Jan. 1, 2019 After Years-Long Legal Battle

June 13, 2018 - 5:32 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- After a years-long legal battle, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that a New York City Styrofoam ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

But as WCBS 880’s Steve Burns reported, there will be a bit of a grace period. Still, your restaurant take-out or cup of coffee may need a new vessel soon.

The city’s long-awaited Styrofoam ban will begin on Jan. 1 of next year, while enforcement will begin on June 1, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The news comes after a judge ruled in the city’s favor that Styrofoam cannot, in fact, be recycled.

City Councilman Brad Lander (D-39th) has been fighting for a while for this. He said he does not buy the argument that the cost of replacement materials is too much.

"We just don’t believe this will be an unfair burden on small businesses,” Lander said. “It covers all small businesses in New York City, so it’s not like the competitor down the street can keep buying Styrofoam.”

The polystyrene ban first took effect in July 2015, and a judge ruled the city had not done enough research. The city Sanitation commissioner went to work with a report of how expensive, time-consuming, and resource-consuming it was to separate out Styrofoam in recycling, and the judge then ruled on the city’s side.

Lander said the he is not seeking to penalize people or businesses with the new regulation. He said he first wants to see outreach in all different languages.

If there are still violators after June 1, Lander wants to see warnings before fines kick in, though the rules will ultimately be up to the Sanitation commissioner.

The Restaurant Action Alliance said in a statement that new materials such as plastic or plant-based containers can cost two and a half to three times more than Styrofoam, and that means some businesses will have to close their doors.

Some food cart owners along Broadway said this past weekend that they would be more than willing to switch, but only if the alternative is not more expensive or if the city helped them out to buy new containers.

There will also be a carve-out for businesses that say the ban will cause them undue financial hardship.