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Life in New York City: Special Issue

January 11, 2015
Plain English Version

Plastic Food Containers Out

styrofoam-cup-beach

Killing the messenger usually means killing the bearer of bad news. In New York City, it now means killing the plastic foam container that brings the bad (or good) food.

A new New York City law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The law means that places that sell food cannot use plastic foam cups or boxes. Food trucks and other takeout food places will have to find other containers in which to put their food.

The sale of packing peanuts within the city limits will also be banned. Parcels containing packing peanuts can still be shipped to New Yorkers from elsewhere.

The city does not plan to enforce the ban until January 2016. It will delay fines and allow a grace period for vendors to learn the new rules.

San Francisco, Seattle and Portland already have such bans. New York is the biggest city to put one in place. It will have an impact on other cities.

Each year, New York City collects about 28,000 tons of plastic foam containers. A city official said, “Much of what fouls our waters starts out on land. The law will improve our rivers and waterfront and then the Atlantic Ocean.”

Not everyone is happy. Plastic form containers are cheap and keep food warm. People take them on the subway to eat at home. Other riders can enjoy the smell.

Some people say the plastic containers can be recycled.

Small nonprofits and businesses can apply to be left out of the program. They must show that buying other containers in place of plastic foam would create “undue financial hardship.”

Source: The Daily News January 7, 2015

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