Foam Free NY, a New York State initiative banning expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food containers and loose fill packaging, will take effect on January 1, 2022.
According to https://on.ny.gov/FoamFreeNY, all “packing peanuts or other void-filling, loose fill packing products made of expanded polystyrene foam” will be prohibited from being sold or distributed in New York State.
AMBC has reached out to the program’s administrators seeking clarification to understand better if this ban applies just to new EPS material, or whether recycled / repurposed / previously used materials are banned as well. Here was their response:
“Regardless of whether the items are purchased or not, as a store, you cannot distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (otherwise known as “packing peanuts”). This includes if they are donated to you.
You could continue [recycling programs,] but you would want to let people donating to your program know that you cannot accept polystyrene loose fill packaging (“packing peanuts”), and if someone does provide you with some, you cannot distribute them in packages as a shipping material.
If you have foam items that are not banned under the law, you can continue distributing those items.”
We followed up and asked what businesses should do with EPS loose fill left over after January 1st. Here was their response:
“The EPS Industry Alliance has a drop off locator and other information about foam recycling programs that are available to bring clean, dry material for recycling:
We realize that many AMBC Members in New York State will not be within practical reach of these EPS recycling centers, nor able to “mail in” (as is suggested by the program) their leftover EPS to those centers do to the sheer volume of back stock that most shipping businesses will have. We also realize that very few AMBC Members in New York State will have know about this ban in advance, and don’t know of any outreach efforts made by the administrators to contact shipping business in New York State ahead of time so that they could prepare. Because of these factors, we have asked if there is a grace period after January 1st during which businesses may use up existing inventory of EPS loose fill, but the program’s administrators have declined to respond to that request.
There is no word yet as to how or if this ban will be enforced or what penalties might be possible to a business who continues to use EPS loose fill after January 1st.
We are continuing to attempt conversations with the program’s administrators and will let you know if there are any updates or developments. Until then, AMBC recommends that stores operating in New York State stop selling and using EPS peanuts and loose fill effective January 1st and substitute biodegradable peanuts or other more greener packaging options in their place.
From what we understand, this only applies to food packaging and loose fill (peanuts and other small bits that would be used as void fill), and not to sheet EPS or formed pieces in electronics packing, etc.
The AMBC Team