Dec. 11, 2018 By Christian Murray
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is reaching out to local food businesses to make them aware of the city’s ban on single-use Styrofoam containers beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
The law will apply to businesses that use Styrofoam takeout containers, including cups, plates, bowls and trays. Prepackaged foods that have been sealed prior to receipt are exempt from the law.
The city has instituted a 6-month grace period before fines will be imposed. The fine will be $250 for the first violation; $500 for the second violation within 12 months; and $1,000 for each successive violation.
“Many food establishments in Flushing rely heavily on customers who carry out their food,” said Sunny Sun, vice president of the New York Chinese Business Administration. “It is very important for these businesses to be informed of this law so they can quickly work to find alternative ways to package their food and continue on with their business.”
Alternative packaging options include aluminum, rigid plastics, uncoated paper, glass and compostable items.
The city instituted the law since Styrofoam poses an environmental threat because it cannot be recycled or broken down in landfills. During organic waste collection, Styrofoam can break into smaller pieces that contaminate organic waste, making it unusable for composting or reuse.
Small businesses that earned less than $500,000 in gross income for the most recent tax year and non-profits may apply for a one-year waiver from the NYC Department of Small Business Services. These establishments must be able to prove that the purchase of alternative products would create a financial hardship.
“We urge local businesses to educate themselves about this new law to avoid the thousands of dollars in fines,” said Taehoon Kim, president of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce.