Expanded Styrofoam ban signed into law

— Photo from the Albany County Executive’s Office

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, seated at center, signs into law a bill expanding the ban of Styrofoam in restaurants. With him are, from left county legislators Andrew Joyce — legislature chairman, Norma Chapman, Chris Higgins, Bill Reinhardt, Merton Simpson, Victoria Plotsky, Frank Commisso Sr., and Bill Clay; County Clerk Bruce Hidley; Deputy County Executive Phil Calderone; former Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith Enck; Environmental Advocates of New York Executive Director Peter Iwanowicz; and Albany County resident Paul Tick.

ALBANY COUNTY — A much-debated bill expanding the ban of Styrofoam use in restaurants was signed into law on Wednesday by Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy. He added an executive order to make the same ban apply to county vendors and agencies.

The law bans the use of polystyrene, often known by the brand name Styrofoam, at all restaurants in Albany County, instead requiring use of compostable or recyclable food-service wares. A similar county law was passed in 2013 applying just to chain-restaurants.

“In signing this important piece of legislation, I am also announcing an executive order that will enhance the bill’s effectiveness by holding county government to the same standards as our businesses by mandating all agencies and vendors immediately end the use of polystyrene for food,” McCoy said.

Other other localities from across the state have since implemented similar measures, including Putnam, Ulster and Dutchess Counties as well as New York City.

Polystyrene is not recyclable or biodegradable and can be easily broken down into pieces that clog storm drains or pollute the water. Environmental advocates commended the county for the ban.

The law will take effect six months after it is filed with the Office of Secretary of State. The expanded ban exempts any not-for-profit organizations with a primary purpose to sell food for fundraising efforts. It also exempts grocery stores that are permitted to operate through regulation from the state’s Department of Health. Waivers for the ban are permitted if the establishment demonstrates that making the switch will be detrimental to its operations.  

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