From take-out containers to packing peanuts, New Yorkers will see a whole lot less of both as a statewide ban on those products will go into effect soon.

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In 2020 smack dab in the midst of the chaos that was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York lawmakers passed a budget and within that budget was a ban on single-use containers and packing peanuts made of polystyrene foam, which the average person knows as styrofoam. The ban already took effect in New York City but it will hit the rest of the state starting on January 1, 2022.

Once January 1 hits, no restaurant, store, caterer, food cart or food truck operator, food store, deli, grocery store, coffee shop, hospital (you get the idea) will be allowed to use foam single-use containers.

The containers that are part of the ban include clamshell-type containers, cups and lids, plates, trays, bowls, and basically any other type of container meant to store or carry prepared foods or drinks.

January 1, 2022, will also mark the end of manufacturers and retailers being allowed to use packing peanuts because they too will be officially banned.

There are some exceptions where a business can use containers made of polystyrene but the exception is pretty strict. Stores will be allowed to use foam packaging for raw meat, pork, seafood, poultry, and fish. Likewise, food service providers will be allowed to use foam containers but only for food that comes prepackaged and sealed before it is handed over to the customer. The ban will only apply to the flimsy containers, not the ones that are made of rigid polystyrene resin.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, foam containers and foam packaging, such as packing peanuts, are the top source of litter. These things fall apart easily but they don't biodegrade quickly and that means they're left to just sit around in our landfills for long periods of time.

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