By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 09, 2015
Credit: © Radharc Images / Alamy

Styrofoam has been in the hot seat for quite some time. Now, America’s most populous city is saying goodbye to the product often used for things like takeout food and coffee cups. Effective July 1 of this year, Styrofoam will be banned in New York City.

The polystyrene packaging is still commonly used in many food-service establishments throughout New York, but the ban doesn’t target just restaurants. Possession, sale or use of Styrofoam products by any type of retailer or manufacturer will result in fines beginning in 2016. That includes everything from clamshell food containers to packing peanuts.

“These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less.”

Opponents of Styrofoam give all sorts of reasons for wanting to eliminate its use. These foam plastics are very difficult to recycle. They cause a number of major environmental concerns. It’s even been suggested that Styrofoam contains carcinogens and can lead to cancer.

New York certainly is the largest, but it definitely isn’t the first community in the US to ban these products. Similar bans are in place in nearly 100 other locales, including cities as large as San Francisco and Seattle. Restaurant chains as large as McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts have recently said they were phasing out plastic foam.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers used to Styrofoam cups will have to prepare for an alternative beverage holder. The good news is there are plenty of I (Heart) NY mugs for sale in Times Square.