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NYC Polystyrene Foam Packaging Law


 NYC Administrative Code (PDF)

Local Law 142 of 2013 was enacted placing restrictions on the sale or use of certain expanded polystyrene (EPS) items. The City determined that expanded polystyrene single service articles cannot be recycled at the designated recycling processing facility at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in a manner that is environmentally effective, economically feasible, and safe for employees as of January 1, 2015.

Final Determination on EPS Foam

By July 1st, 2015, no food service establishment, mobile food commissary, or store will be able to use, sell, or offer expanded polystyrene single service food items or loose fill packaging (commonly known as packaging peanuts).


  1. Polystyrene foam single-service items including cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers, and trays.
  2. Polystyrene loose fill packaging, commonly known as packing peanuts.


  1. Expanded polystyrene containers used for prepackaged food that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service establishment, mobile food commissary, or store.
  2. Expanded polystyrene containers used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar retail appliance.

Note: Foam blocks used as protective packaging in shipping are not covered under this law.

Food service establishments, including full-service restaurants, fast food restaurants, cafes, delis, coffee shops, grocery stores, vending trucks, carts, cafeterias, and others.
In accordance with the City’s new policy, DOE will begin replacing foam trays with compostable plates on May 1st. All school meals will be served on these compostable plates starting in September. All summer meals will also be served on compostable plates.

Nonprofits and small businesses (not part of a chain) with less than $500,000 in revenue per year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products not composed of EPS would create undue financial hardship. SBS will begin accepting applications for hardship waivers in March 2015.

Prior to July 1, 2015, food service establishments, mobile food commissaries, and stores must use up any existing inventory of expanded polystyrene foam items. After July 1, 2015, these entities cannot sell, distribute, or use single service expanded polystyrene foam items. This includes providing food in these items. Additionally, manufacturers and stores cannot sell or offer for sale polystyrene loose fill packaging in the City. 

There are many alternative packaging options available including paper, plastic, aluminum, and biodegradable products. Contact your packaging distributor about alternatives to foam products.

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