Nassau County Approves Ban On Styrofoam Containers
The ban, which goes into effect in January, will make it illegal to sell Styrofoam in the county. Businesses will be fined if they do.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed a law today that bans the sale and distribution of Styrofoam containers in the county.
"Today, Nassau County is taking a big step towards the future," Curran said. "Non-biodegradable polystyrene can't be recycled like most products. So, while that coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup that was holding it won't be. It will break down into small pieces – clogging our waterways, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife and even damaging local industries like fishing and tourism. We only have one Long Island – we must protect it."
Polystyrene foam – better known by its brand name Styrofoam – has been classified as a carcinogen, and in most cases is completely non-biodegradable. After breaking into small pieces, it becomes harder to clean up and its composition of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals can cause environmental damage, including killing marine life that consumes it.
On Long Island, it has been known to clog waterways and dramatically increase the cost of waste disposal for municipalities. There is no practical method for recycling polystyrene foam, and incinerating it releases toxic fumes.
Businesses in Nassau will have until Jan. 1, 2020 to use up their existing Styrofoam containers before the ban takes place. After that, any business violating the law will be fined $500 for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense and up to $2,500 for every subsequent offense. The money from those funds will provide for environmental investigation and cleanup of Nassau County properties.
"Big problems need bold action," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Styrofoam is littering our communities, beaches and bays. Containers meant to transport food and beverages leach toxic styrene. Kudus to Nassau County for stepping up to tackle this pollution and public health concern by banning Styrofoam take-out containers, cups and plates. Making the switch to more sustainable options is good for our environment and our health."