Regulation Updates: E-Waste, Styrofoam, and more

Update: Sept. 22, 2015Judge strikes down NYC’s foam ban.  The city is exploring its options for reinstituting the ban, including an appeal. We will keep you updated. 

New Year, New Rules Across The Country: Here are selected highlights of new and upcoming rules affecting clients across the country.  Check back for updates.

1) NY State – E-waste Banned from Trash

Effective: January 1, 2015

Who does it affect: Everyone. Residential buildings especially should take note because they might be held accountable for e-waste found in the building’s trash.

Details: The final phase of New York’s 2010 electronics recycling law took effect on Jan. 1, 2015. E-waste must now be recycled and cannot be placed in the trash.  While businesses have been required to dispose of their e-waste properly since 2012, the new rule expands the to include periphery items like keyboards and cords.

What you should do:  For buildings that do not yet have a year-round e-waste recycling program in place, now might be the time to consider installing one. Talk to your sustainability consultant.

For consumers in NYC, there are around 80 e-recycling drop-off locations including Staples, Best Buy, Goodwill and the Salvation Army. In New York State, check this list of e-waste recyclers and some info on how to select a reputable recycler.


2) NYC – Styrofoam Ban

Effective: July 1, 2015 (with six month grace period)

Who does it affect: Food service establishments, stores and manufacturers.

Details: Effective July 1, 2015, single use styrofoam products will be banned in New York City. Food service establishments, stores and manufacturers may not possess, sell, or offer for use single service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam articles or polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” in NYC, which is now the largest city in the country to ban EPS foam.

Businesses will have a six month grace period (until Jan. 1, 2016) before fines can be imposed.  Read more here.

What you should do:  Talk to your sustainability consultant about switching to alternatives like compostable packaging. Non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in revenue per year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products not composed of EPS would create undue financial hardship. SBS will begin accepting applications for hardship waivers in March 2015.

Need help?  The EPA just released a free checklist to help food services providers and restaurants reduce reduce food and packaging waste.


3) California – Plastic Bags, Used Mattresses , etc.

New rules for California include bans on plastic shopping bags, mandatory recycling/composting of organic waste, recycling of used mattresses, and even a rule that requires street paving and repair obligations to use only recycled paving materials. Effective dates vary from this year to 2017.  See details for each rule listed below.

SB 270: Plastic bag ban
AB 1826: Organic waste
AB 333: Medical waste
AB 380: Railroad hazmat hauling
AB 1179: Waste tires
AB 2355: Recycled paving materials
SB 1274: Used mattresses

4) Mid-Atlantic Region

In Washington, D.C., new provisions are moving the district towards increasing composting and electronics recycling, and moving away from the use of styrofoam. See a summary of the waste management modernization act.

In Arlington, VA., there is a call for feedback on proposed requirements for additional recycling containers. See our earlier post for details.


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