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Board Votes to Regulate Polystyrene Foam Food Containers

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White Plains, NY — On Monday night, the Westchester County Board of Legislators, in a unanimous, bi-partisan vote, passed a measure that will regulate the use of expanded polystyrene takeout food containers in Westchester.

The new measure will eliminate the sale or use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) coffee cups as well as other EPS containers and utensils commonly used for takeout and prepared foods, and for restaurant leftovers.

The new measure prohibits EPS food containers to be used by vendors and restaurants, or sold in stores. It also prohibits the sale of loose-fill EPS packing foam in Westchester. Prepackaged food that arrives sealed in EPS packaging, as well as packaging for raw eggs and butcher case packaging are exempted.

Majority Leader Catherine Parker (D - Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye) said, "Expanded polystyrene doesn't decompose. When you throw away that EPS coffee cup, it remains part of our environment for generations -- littering our streets, clogging our storm drains, backing up our landfills, and eventually winding up in broken pieces in our waterways. This legislation not only will have an impact on our environment today, but it will have an impact on our environment for many decades."

Leg. Nancy Barr (D - Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook), one of the bill's co-sponsors and Chair of the Board's Environment, Health and Energy Committee said, "Getting rid of these EPS food containers is long overdue. EPS is light. It blows down our streets. It floats off into our waterways. And once it is used to hold food, it's hard to recycle. Last month, Riverkeeper removed 37 tons of litter from the Hudson River in one day, and a significant portion of that material was foam pieces, foam packing and foam cups and plates. Eliminating the use of EPS for takeout food is going to go a long way to keeping our environment cleaner."

Another bill co-sponsor, Leg. Kitley Covill (D - Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers) said, "Our neighbors in Nassau and Suffolk Counties have passed legislation like this. New York City has done it. Albany County has done it. Other cities like Washington, D.C. have done it. Even an entire state, Maine, has done it. I'm proud that now Westchester County will join our responsible neighbors in this kind of proper stewardship of our shared environment. I hope this will be the first but not the last piece of legislation we'll pass that will allow us to leave behind a safer, cleaner Westchester for our children and our children's children."

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D – White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “As elected officials, environmental protections are one of the most important things we can do for current and future generations. I’m gratified that the Board has passed this important legislation to improve the environment in Westchester now and long into the future.”

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "Polystyrene foam clogs our waste stream and pollutes our waterways. Limiting the use of Styrofoam food containers will help keep our waterways clear, ease the burden on our landfills, and fight climate change. We commend the Westchester County Board of Legislators and Legislator Parker for joining the growing movement to reduce Styrofoam and decrease disposable products across New York."

Edward Berry, Member of the Executive Committee and Political Chair, Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group, said, “Polystyrene foam contains styrene, a hazardous substance that is suspected to be a carcinogen and neurotoxin. Chronic exposure can lead to depression, headaches and have minor effects on kidney function. This presents a serious health hazard that can’t be ignored.”


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