Tuesday, May 24, 2022

State finalizes laws to decrease e-waste, foam packaging

fpolystyrene foam ban

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner has announced the finalization of two regulations that will help reduce waste going to landfills. The adoption of requirements to reduce electronic waste (e-waste) and enacting the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Loose Fill Packaging Ban will promote recycling and help prevent foam litter from affecting communities.

DEC recently adopted regulations related to e-waste management to strengthen and provide clarity to the State’s 2010 Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act. The regulations increase consumer recycling opportunities, emphasize producer responsibility for covering costs associated with the implementation of their own electronic waste acceptance programs, and improve overall collection of e-waste and recycling program performance. The full text of the regulations, which go into effect for existing regulated entities on Jan. 1, 2023, can be found at DEC’s website.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is a major contributor to environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and natural resources. EPS foam is lightweight, breaks apart easily, and does not biodegrade, rendering it persistent in the environment and susceptible to becoming microplastic pollution. In addition, EPS foam containers and loose fill packaging are not accepted by most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle, easily contaminates the recycling stream, is often soiled, and has low value.

DEC adopted regulations to help implement New York’s polystyrene foam ban, known as the Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Loose Fill Packaging Ban, that began on Jan. 1, 2022. The new regulations provide clarity regarding the ban on expanded polystyrene foam containers and loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts); establish prohibitions related to its sale, offering for sale, and distribution; explain the financial hardship waiver application process; give cost comparison analysis for alternative packaging; provide definition of the terms “comparable cost” and “undue financial hardship”; and criteria for hardship waiver approval, renewal, and denial. The full text of the regulations can be found at DEC’s website. For more information to “Go Foam Free” visit DEC’s website.

The two measures build upon New York’s environmental leadership in preventing litter and reducing waste through measures such as the ban on plastic carryout bags, the bottle bill, and food scrap recycling and food waste prevention efforts.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

9 Responses

  1. Plow boy says:

    If NYS would just look and see the pure beauty of egg cartons made from recycled paper waste and push/encourage this sort of packaging, then NYS might score some real benefits to reducing plastic waste
    Another plus for this type packaging is it is biodegradable big time. Plastic recycling is a joke more stuff in glass packaging should be encouraged by NYS.

  2. Zephyr says:

    “stuff in glass packaging should be encouraged by NYS.” I’m torn on glass packaging. As much as I like it if you walk or bike to get groceries glass is just horrible–heavy and breakable. Plus, with kids in the house it is a minor danger. Plastic is also great when backpacking or camping. It’s too bad plastic recycling is a problem because it is a practical packaging material, assuming no negative health effects.

  3. chris cohan says:

    Good news.
    Any reduction of plastics/single use containers/ excessive packaging is GREAT!

  4. Pete says:

    I have spent the last 50 years or more picking up broken glass at campsites, beaches, and other spots around the lakes. Glass packaging would be great except for this problem.

    • Zephyr says:

      Yes, glass in the backcountry is an abomination. We arrived at a beautiful firetower summit one time only to find that some jokesters apparently took bottles up the tower then dropped them onto the rocks below. The summit was covered with shards of glass. Similarly, I have frequently had to clean up the street near my house due to drivers ejecting their beer bottles out the windows. In my experience glass shards are the #1 hazard for bike tires too.

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    I like glass containers moreso than plastic containers for peanut butter, mustard, salad dressing, etc, but, as some contributors above state, glass can be a problem if it gets out into a public space, to which many examples can be cited. I’m so glad NY State banned those darned plastic bags handed out at grocery stores, etc, as they were a major source of pollution. Every little bit helps though we have a very long ways to go on this matter plastic. I’m glad they’re doing something about styrofoam also….it’s about time!

  6. It’s about time, the whole world should follow these examples.

  7. Zephyr says:

    Unfortunately, our efforts to reduce plastic pollution are not matched by most of the world which has no such reduction efforts in place. More than 80% of ocean plastic originates in Asian rivers. https://ourworldindata.org/ocean-plastics

    However, I believe I see vastly less trash of all sorts in the wild. When I was young it was routine to see people just fling their trash out of the windows of vehicles, and every leanto in the Adirondacks featured a trash pit out back that was often not deep enough and not covered properly meaning animals spread everything around the area. It was impossible to use firepits without first removing the trash. When bottle and can deposits came in for beverages there was a huge reduction in roadside trash, even on the street where I live. Though I still pick up trash every single day. I’m convinced that 80% of the trash comes from 20% of the people. If I see a certain truck parked near my house it is guaranteed there will be a bunch of beer cans to pick up in the morning.

  8. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “It’s about time, the whole world should follow these examples.”

    Maybe if we saw the whole world as one unit Scott things would be different. If we all just got along as one big happy family, helping each other out, the “community at large” spirit instilled upon more of us….maybe then we wouldn’t have so many woes the world over. We’re in ‘us vs them’ mode which seems to be on an uptick. Of course this country got a little reprieve from that ever since the day of the insurrection, but the rest of the world don’t forget and you can see they’re moving away from the good old US slowly but surely other countries around the world, which of course will only make things worse, more pollution, more conflict, more this and that…….. you name it! I know I seem off-track here but there is much truism to what I say and there are books written on, and smart people talking about, it, etc.

    What happens in other parts of the world will eventually happen here wholly, not just piecemeal as it has been. We still have lots of clean water but it’s only a matter of time before that will be just a distant memory. If we allow other countries to turn their rivers into muck what does that say about any of us, because, as I say, what happens in other parts of the world has impacts on the rest of the world. Take the Amazon rainforest for one mere example. When that goes, which seems likely…..we’re done!

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