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DEC announces adoption of regulations to significantly reduce electronic and foam packaging waste

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos today 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.

“New York was among the first states to ban foam take-out containers and packing peanuts because we’ve seen the direct impacts of litter in neighborhoods across the state and the ongoing, long-term damage created by microplastics on our environment,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The enactment of this common sense regulation and the new requirements for electronic waste builds upon New York State’s nation-leading efforts to reduce landfill waste and promote recycling.”

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 here.

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 online. 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.