Suffolk to Become First County in New York to Restrict the Use of Straws by Request Only
County Executive Will Also Sign Legislation to Prohibit the Use of Polystyrene Foam
Suffolk County Executive Bellone today announced he will sign legislation designed to protect the environment by reducing unnecessary plastic and polystyrene foam consumption. The two pieces of legislation, both sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn and approved by the Suffolk County Legislature on April 9, restrict the use of plastic straws and ban food and beverage businesses from using polystyrene foam containers.
“These latest measures cement Suffolk County’s reputation as the statewide leader in protecting our environment,” said County Executive Bellone. “I want to thank Legislator Hahn for championing this effort which will go a long way in protecting Long Island’s oceans, parks, and marine life.”
Kara Hahn, Suffolk County Legislator and Majority Leader, said: “With today’s action, Suffolk has set a course toward sustainability over expediency for our County’s future. It is most fitting that on Earth Day, we as a County have formally codified our commitment to addressing the proliferation of single use plastics, which is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said: "Plastics and polystyrene foam clog our waste stream and pollute our waterways. Reducing the use of plastic straws and foam will help keep our waterways clear, decrease the burden on our landfills, and fight climate change. This legislation sets a bold standard for other localities across the state to follow. We commend County Executive Bellone and County Legislator Hahn for their leadership on reducing plastic pollution."
Dr. Charles Bevington, Chair of Sierra Club Long Island Group, said: “On behalf of Sierra Club Long Island Group and our 8,000 Long Island members, I would like to thank the both of you and all the Suffolk County Legislators for being leaders in the efforts to adopt regulations and policies that protect our environment. Thank you for your vision in passing the legislation designed to reduce plastic and polystyrene foam consumption on Long Island. Suffolk County will also become the first county in New York State to restrict the use of plastic straws by request only, as well as ban food and beverage businesses from using polystyrene foam containers.”
Suffolk County has been a national leader in environmental protection, as it strives to protect the natural resources of Long Island. To date, the County has enacted a wide variety of environmental protection laws, including a 5 cent fee on single use plastic bags.
The first bill requires that straws and beverage stirrers at food service establishments be provided to consumers upon request only in Suffolk County. Americans collectively use 500 million plastic straws per day, which contributes to plastic pollution that litters the ground and clogs oceans, rivers and waterways.
The new law does not apply to pre-packaged individual serving beverages where a small plastic straw is included in the packaging or beverages purchased at drive-thru windows. The straws and beverage stirrers provided by food service establishments upon request by a consumer or at a drive-thru window or self-service beverage station are required to be biodegradable and/or backyard compostable. A consumer with a disability or medical condition may be provided with a plastic or other non-biodegradable straw or stirrer if the consumer so requests.
This law, which take effect on January 1, 2020, will be enforced by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. Any food service establishment which violates this law will be subject to a civil penalty, with an initial violation subject to a fine of $100, the second violation will be subject to a fine of $200, the third or any subsequent violations will be subject to a fine of $400 per violation.
The second bill prohibits the use, possession, offer and sale of disposable food service items consisting of polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, by food service establishments, mobile food commissaries, and stores in Suffolk County. The legislation also prohibits the uses of Polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as packing peanuts. Polystyrene foam is a common environmental pollutant and non-biodegradable substance which is non-recyclable.
Excluded from this legislation is packaging filled and sealed prior to its arrival at the effected locations, and containers used to store uncooked eggs, raw meat, seafood, and poultry.
This law, which take effect on January 1, 2020, will be enforced by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. Any establishment in violation of this law will be subject to a civil fine, with the first offenses punishable by a fine of up to $500, the second offenses punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, and the third and subsequent offenses punishable by a fine of up to $2,500.
Similar laws have been enacted across the state. New York City and Albany currently have Polystyrene bans in place, while the Village of East Hampton and the State of California implemented laws requiring the provision of straws to consumers upon request only.