Styrofoam ban would hurt businesses

To the Editor:

The Albany County Legislature is considering a law that will make it costlier to do business in the county and place an added burden on not-for-profit organizations. The proposal would ban Styrofoam cups and other polystyrene products from small food establishments, including churches, firehouses, and even the Little League if they have food permits.

None of the arguments made by supporters hold up under scrutiny. The first claim, that there is a health risk to using a foam cup, is not supported by evidence. You will not find polystyrene on any of the American Cancer Society lists for known, probable, or possible carcinogens. In fact, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer said, “Consumers don’t need to worry about polystyrene cups and food containers.” The director of the National Toxicology Program (a unit in the United States Department of Health and Human Services) said, “Let me put your mind at ease right away about polystyrene foam…(it) is not an issue.”

The second claim that polystyrene cannot be recycled is also false. When New York City tried to institute a similar ban, it was thrown out by the courts. State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan wrote, “The one undisputed short answer to whether EPS (Expanded Poly Styrene) is recyclable is Yes. Single-serve EPS is recyclable.” I favor recycling as the best option.

Their third claim, that the ban will have little financial impact, is questionable. Just one Albany County vendor that provides much needed social services estimated the ban’s impact at $18,000 to $20,000 a year.

An Altamont Enterprise letter last week in favor of the ban stated the government has “a moral responsibility to protect the public and especially children from being poisoned.” This kind of overblown rhetoric must be rejected.

Let your county legislators know where their true “responsibility” lies. They should stand up for sensible environmental policy that does not unnecessarily hamper the business activity that generates the money for the government programs the legislators wish to fund.

Mark Grimm

Albany County Legislator

Editor’s note: Mark Grimm is a Republican legislator from Guilderland.

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