Good Question: Does the state’s Styrofoam ban impact swim noodles?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. β€” Does New York State’s ban on Styrofoam impact swim noodles?

If you have a pool, then you might have Styrofoam swim noodles sitting around. They’re good for floating, pool games, you name it. Within the last few years, New York State banned a certain kind of foam, which is what one of you asked us about in today’s good question.

In 2020, New York State announced a ban on polystyrene foam, also known as Styrofoam. The ban primarily applies to food service and shipping supplies. Restaurants and food suppliers aren’t supposed to use Styrofoam containers for take-out or storage. If you’re shipping something, the state says no more Styrofoam packing peanuts.

A viewer named Kathy wrote to us asking about a different use for the material. She wants to know: “Why are the Styrofoam swim noodles still allowed to be sold?”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says “pool toys are not covered under the ban.”

In other words, they’re still allowed to be sold because the ban on Styrofoam does not apply to pool toys. Also, as it turns out, most pool noodles are not made with styrofoam.

They’re typically made with polyethylene, which is similar, but has some key differences. For example, polyethylene is more resistant to moisture, which makes it good for pools.

If you’ve used them, you probably know that pool noodles have a shelf life, and they will begin to disintegrate after a while. Unfortunately, polyethylene is difficult to recycle, so the best way to get rid of them is to either re-purpose them or cut them up and put them in the trash.

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