Environmental Advocates of New York and other local environment advocates have issued a sign-on letter to the Albany County Legislature in support of local law NO. “S,” Resolution 457, which would expand the polystyrene ban to all restaurants in Albany County, not just chains with 15 or more locations nationwide.
Dear Albany County Legislators:
We write to describe a great opportunity for you to protect Albany County’s environment, wastewater systems, and the public health of all who live here. Our organizations recognize that the Albany County Legislature has been a proven leader on many issues and in doing so has helped to prompt state and federal action. You can build on that record by signing on to cosponsor local law NO. “S” for 2016 – Resolution 457 – legislation to reduce unnecessary waste, also known as the Food Service Waste Reduction Act – and by voting in support of the measure as soon as possible.
Passage of this Act will ensure that wasteful and damaging polystyrene products are replaced with reusable, biodegradable, or compostable alternatives.
Because polystyrene containers are used for such short periods of time, it is easy to underestimate the dangers associated with them. However, (1) chemicals used in polystyrene are known to harm citizen’s health, to pollute our waterways and clog sewer drains (which creates an added cost for taxpayers), and kill wildlife.
(2) Polystyrene products are comprised of styrene, reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen, and benzene, a known carcinogen. These toxics leach out of the plastic foam products and we consume them when hot foods or liquids come in contact with polystyrene containers. This begs the question: Why should anyone be comfortable eating or drinking from products that cannot even go into the microwave for fear of the toxics contaminating food?
Additionally, it is very difficult to recycle or reuse polystyrene, and there are few communities with recycling plants that accept it. And while it may only take you 15 minutes to finish your “togo” cup of coffee, it could take 500 years or more for the plastic foam container to break down into smaller pieces. It is estimated that 20% of waste, in terms of physical space in landfills, is plastic foam. Think of all of the transportation costs and the costs associated with the closing of a landfill that fall on the taxpayers. (3) Reducing the prevalence of polystyrene will have a great impact on our environment as evidenced by San Francisco’s ban, which reduced waste by 36 percent.
Bans have already been successfully adopted in many municipalities statewide, as well as in hundreds of localities nationwide including Washington, D.C., Amherst, Massachusetts, Rahway, New Jersey, and Los Angeles County, California. This is your opportunity to continue your record of leadership – by voting to defend environmental health and ending the use of these destructive products in food service establishments.
1) https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=38&tid=14 and http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/generalinformationaboutcarcinogens/known-andprobable-human-carcinogens
The letter was signed by:
MD American Academy of Pediatrics New York 1 Chapter
Executive Director Environmental Advocates of New York
Conservation Chair Hudson Mohawk Group, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
General Counsel New York Public Interest Research Group
Facilitator People of Albany United for Safe Energy
Caitlin P Ferrante
Chapter Coordinator Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Director of Community Engagement Riverkeeper