Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to help the environment in 2020, aiming to ban the use of single-use Styrofoam food containers and packing peanuts, the state announced this week.

While Cuomo is looking for this specific legislation to be voted on and passed in the new year, the law would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2022. The measure isn’t Cuomo’s first foray into material banning in the state, after single-use plastics were outlawed in 2019. That law takes effect in March 2020.

In addition to banning the distribution and use of one-time Styrofoam containers used for prepared foods or beverages by restaurants, caterers, food trucks, retail food stores, delis, and grocery stores, the bill will halt the sale of Styrofoam packaging and authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to take additional action in limiting or banning other types of material if an adverse environmental impact is found.

There is a line in the bill, however, that doesn’t include prepackaged food sealed prior to purchase at a restaurant or food service establishment, as well as packaging for uncooked or raw meat, fish, or eggs.

Violators will be penalized $250 on first offense, followed by $500, $1,000, and $2,000 for second, third, and fourth offenses, respectively.

"Styrofoam is one of the most common pollutants and a public health hazard that impacts humans and the environment alike," Governor Cuomo said. "From take-out containers to packing peanuts, this material is everywhere and it will continue to pollute our waters and harm our wildlife for generations to come if we do not act. With this proposal, we can build on our nation-leading initiatives to protect the environment and move New York another step closer to a greener, more sustainable future."

Single-use Styrofoam was banned in New York City in 2019, making it the largest city in the country to do so. Cuomo’s bill would enforce the ruling statewide. Maine is set to follow in 2021.

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