Possessing, selling or offering Styrofoam products at New York City's food service establishments, stores and manufacturers was banned as of midnight Wednesday.
Across the five boroughs, Styrofoam products such as trays, cups, plates, clamshell containers and packing peanuts are now banned, according to a law passed in December 2013. That law says fines for violations of ban can't be collected for six months, until January 2016, although the city has said businesses would get warnings instead of fines for the first year the ban is in place.
Non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue can apply for hardship exemptions if they can prove purchasing alternative products would create undue financial hardship.
In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the ban would begin July 1.
"These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. 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," de Blasio said in a statement in January announcing the ban. "By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today's announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City."
Instead of using Styrofoam products, also known as Expanded Polystyrene foam, for school lunches, schools are expected to start using compostable plates. "All school meals will be served on these compostable plates starting in September," de Blasio's office said. "All summer meals will also be served on compostable plates."