BROOKLYN - Stores and food services establishments in New York City are no longer allowed to sell, distribute or use certain types of foam cups, plates and other takeout containers.

Officials with the Sanitation Department say the ban is the latest effort in the city's initiative to go green. An extensive study showed that the polystyrene foam, used in most takeout foam containers, is non-biodegradable and just sits in landfills as waste. This is harmful to the environment, they say, and using recyclable materials such as paper or plastic will help in the long term.

The Restaurant Action Alliance has spoken out against the ban, saying that plastic containers are costly and can put businesses out of commission.  

The ban affects restaurants and outdoor food carts. Nonprofit groups and small businesses can apply for an exemption if they believe their business would face significant hardship if they comply with the law.

There is a six-month grace period for vendors to make the switch.  After January 1, 2016, violations will be issued.