Diners, delis, and food carts in the country's biggest city have six months to find a greener alternative to the Styrofoam cups and takeout containers many of them use. New York has become the latest US city to ban foam containers, and the ban will take effect July 1, although there will be a grace period with no fines until January 2016, NBC reports. The initiative—introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg before he left office—will keep 30,000 tons of waste out of landfills every year, according to the city, which brought in the ban after it was unable to find an "environmentally effective, economically feasible, and safe" way to recycle polystyrene containers, the Guardian reports.
Packing peanuts are also covered by the ban, although they will still be allowed in packages sent to the city from elsewhere. Nonprofits and businesses with under $500,000 in revenue can get exemptions if they can prove the switch will cause them financial hardship, although many establishments are expected to simply raise prices to cover the cost of the more expensive containers. "The cheapest one is the foam. If we go for the plastic and other materials—paper, let's say, for the coffee cups—it's extremely, very expensive," a deli employee tells amNewYork. "It will cost you 85% higher than the foam prices. That's a huge gap. It's not 5 cents, it's not 10 cents."