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Nov 30, 2018 1:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Looks At Banning Plastic Straws And Foam Food Containers

Tip Brolin, left, and Dieter von Lehsten, both of the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, presented legislation proposing regulations on plastic straws and styrofoam containers in food establishments. GREG WEHNER
Dec 4, 2018 2:40 PM

The Southampton Town Board is considering a ban on the use of two products, plastic straws and polystyrene foam containers, in food establishments in the town, concerned about their environmental impact.

The regulations, though currently only in draft form, would prohibit food service establishments from possessing, selling or offering containers made of polystyrene foam—often incorrectly referred to as Styrofoam, which is a different substance—unless they receive goods already packaged in the material. Included in the polystyrene foam ban are disposable coolers, “clamshell” food trays and drinking cups.

Under the proposed regulations, food establishments still would be allowed up to 20 plastic straws to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, for use by those with physical disabilities who require plastic straws. But all other plastic straws would be banned.

Food establishments would be permitted to provide straws and stirrers made of alternative materials, like stainless steel, bamboo or paper—but only upon request.

“As we know, there’s been a wave of people trying to reduce their garbage going to reusables and recyclables,” Town Board member Julie Lofstad said at a work session on Thursday, November 29. She explained that the town’s sustainability team created a subcommittee to look into reducing plastics, and the legislation is what they came up with.

“I think they’ve come up with a pretty good draft law addressing polystyrene and plastic straws,” she added. “It’s a good start in the right direction.”

Water Mill resident Tip Brolin, a member of the Sustainability Committee, told board members that residents of and visitors to Southampton Town discard nearly 20 million straws and 8 million polystyrene foam cups per year. On Friday, she said the estimated number of straws is based on a national average of 175 million straws per day, along with the yearly and seasonal population of Southampton Town.

During his presentation to the board, Mr. Brolin said reducing waste like straws and polystyrene foam will in turn reduce the town’s cost of disposal and increase money from recyclables. One of his slides suggested that polystyrene foam products account for 30 percent of the space in landfills across the world, noting while the useful life of the products is “between minutes and a few hours,” it lasts “indefinitely in landfills and our bays and oceans.”

Mr. Brolin said the Sustainability Committee surveyed 85 retailers and food establishments about the proposed legislation, and said 83 supported the legislation regarding polystyrene foam products, or did not have any objection. As for plastic straws, five establishments did not respond because they needed to check with their corporate office first, and of the 80 establishments remaining, 78 supported the restrictions or did not have any objection.

Mark Parash, who operates Sip ‘N’ Soda on Main Street in Southampton Village, said his restaurant has already switched away from using polystyrene foam and instead uses an eco-friendly cardboard to-go container for food.

He noted that the restaurant is in Southampton Village—a townwide ban will not affect him in the way it would establishments in Hampton Bays or North Sea—but he has also begun looking into plastic straw alternatives.

The move comes on the heels of a single-use plastic straw ban that was approved in East Hampton Village on October 19. That law also permits businesses to keep a low number of plastic straws on hand for those who require them.

East Hampton Village also had bans on non-reusable plastic bags and polystyrene products, and while there is no ban on mylar balloons there currently, board members are looking into a ban on those as well.

The Surfrider Foundation Eastern Long Island chapter is also making a push to reduce the use of plastic straws, and over the summer it was part of a worldwide movement to get restaurants on the East End of Long Island to voluntarily stop their use of plastic straws.

They asked restaurants to pledge to go “completely strawless” or provide straws made of alternative materials that are reusable, such as stainless steel, or biodegradable, like paper or bamboo, and only upon request.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman told Mr. Brolin and the other members of the Sustainability Committee that he likes the idea of regulations on plastic straws and polystyrene foam, but he would like to work with the villages to get them on board as well.

Still, in order to get a ban like this to work, Town Board member John Bouvier explained, the town needs to lobby the manufacturers of straws and polystyrene foam. Educating the public will also be crucial, and is part of the plan if the legislation is passed.

In fact, the committee proposed making SeaTV announcements and issuing press releases six months before the law takes effect.

The board did not yet take any formal action on the proposed ban.

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Great job by the Town Board. Stop waste and save our planet!!!
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Nov 30, 18 2:56 PM
So lets see here, Southampton Town consumes 11.4% of the national average of plastic straws? Or am I calculating that wrong...
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Nov 30, 18 2:59 PM
I think you're mixing up yearly and daily averages.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 30, 18 3:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Your right. I realized that after I posted. It calculates out to be .03% of the national average. Still, its a relief to realize we are not at the forefront of plastic straw polluters.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Nov 30, 18 4:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
reusable straws depend on the people cleaning them properly which if not done could cause serious health problems. I have seen stainless straws with a cleaning tool but they are a little pricey.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 30, 18 4:17 PM
Orwellian. Posturing One flake in a blizzard.
By zeke (40), southampton on Nov 30, 18 5:58 PM
Pro level, bougie, consumerist libtard douches have Sterling Silver Straws. They last forever and silver is naturally anti microbial. Disposable plastics are my best chance of leaving a lasting impact on this world.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Nov 30, 18 5:59 PM
We need proven alternatives Before we make laws. Ifs and may be's are not solutions. Get rib of foams, cut down more trees for cardboard straws???
I totally agree that the foams are not good, give us a REAL alternative. Just be real...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Nov 30, 18 6:47 PM
Well here's the thing with paper and trees...they are renewable resources, which when managed properly, can be harvested sustainably. Also, its a friggin straw! I understand some disabled people may need straws, but nobody else NEEDS a stupid straw to sip their over-priced Hampton Coffee iced latte. If we can't make this one small step towards less plastic pollution then we are screwed in regards to addressing climate change.
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Dec 5, 18 10:47 AM
You don't need a straw. Now stop it.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Nov 30, 18 9:37 PM
Keep using those straws....repeated use causes one to purse their lips an can create wrinkles from the repetitive motion!! If u really want those mouth wrinkles, buy some edible ones rather than supporting the destruction of trees to make paper straws.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Dec 1, 18 7:05 AM
Free Needles, Free Straws
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Dec 3, 18 10:56 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Dec 1, 18 9:06 AM
2 members liked this comment
Restaurants, and retail stores are going out of business by the second. No bags, no styrofoam to keep your food at temp. Make it harder for the consumer so they can spend elsewhere.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 1, 18 10:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Chinese restaurants use paper containers for outbound food for year - did you ever complain? No. It's what they do and it works. Period. Reheat your food in the microwave or on the stove top. We don't need styrofoam and never did.
By Dodger (161), Southampton Village on Dec 12, 18 11:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
... this is lightweight, patronizing BS,like patting yourself on the back because of the plastic bag ban, What about the carcinogenic PFOA's all over the town, what, about the fact that people cant drink their water, what about the fact that the aquifer has toxic levels of nitrogen and the town is potentially turming its management over to developers, what about the fact that every fresh water body of water from Eastport tp Montauk is polluted?

Let's talk abou that.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Dec 1, 18 10:22 AM
Slime, how about the children and elderly people the have needs. I can see fast food going to biodegradable straws.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Dec 1, 18 11:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
You haven't established that children and the elderly need straws.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Dec 1, 18 12:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Read the third paragraph please. Straws will be available UPON request. Not using a plastic straw for our Starbucks drinks is a small price to pay for the environment. It’s a straw. We do not need a straw to consume beverages.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Dec 3, 18 6:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
Toes, some people do in fact need a straw to consume beverages. Is the Town going to issue medical straw cards like handicap parking permits?
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Dec 3, 18 11:53 AM
How about banning water bottles or at the very least put a 5 cent deposit on it? How about we ban yogurt containers and plastic milk bottles and individual plastic applesauce and fruit containers? How about we ban laundry detergent bottles and other cleaning bottles made of plastic? How about putting garbage cans on beaches and upgrading the existing cans in the villages and beach parking lots? How about a mandated recycling program for all haulers in the town? How about we stop being so damn ...more
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Dec 2, 18 11:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
The plastics pollution is also affecting our sea life an polluting our waters, not just fertilizer an septic. The fish you eat, well your eating plastics particles. Nemo snacked on some plastic before he was caught an fileted. Think twice before u buy sea salt. 90% of it is contaminated with plastic particles . Stop using soaps with plastic micro beads as it winds up in our drinking water . Scary!! The beaches have garbage cans, but you can’t force common sense on one to not throw their ...more
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Dec 3, 18 6:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Unfortunately, it is more than a turtle with a straw in its mouth...there is a magnitude of sea life dying around the world from polluted waters...whether it be from septic, fertilizer or garbage pollution. We the people have created these issues and tiny steps are still helpful to our environment. I read an article last week about a sperm whale that was found dead with 115 drinking cups, 25 plastic bags, 2 flip-flops, plastic bottles and a bag containing more than 1,000 pieces of string in its ...more
By pvalk6 (32), Southampton on Dec 3, 18 4:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
There already is a 5 cent deposit on water bottles
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 18 4:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
No. There is not.
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Dec 4, 18 8:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Helium filled Mylar balloons. There all over the beaches and in the water.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Dec 3, 18 6:42 AM
I hate those things. Every time I see them I think of a turtle mistaking them for a jellyfish.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Dec 3, 18 4:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
If possible, please keep track of how many balloons you are picking up an where . They are a huge problem. Notify the Town Board. Notify the Eastern LI Chapter of Surfrider Foundation .All that’s needed is someone to start the campaign to ban the balloons here. Thank you to Surfrider for fighting to ban of the intentional release of them!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Dec 6, 18 7:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
North Sea Citizen, the Surfrider Foundation is working with the town to ban the intentional release of said balloons, just FYI! Right now it is currently legal to release 25 balloons into the air once every 24 hours. Weird law right?
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Dec 3, 18 8:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
just whacked!! We retrieve large numbers of those balloons each time we fish in the ocean. Truly disgusting. What's even worse are cigarette butts, that crap pollutes our beaches and waterways in incredible volume.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 3, 18 8:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Dec 3, 18 10:45 AM
I see people at the grocery store putting fruit and veggies into plastic bags. Their carts often have more than 20 of these bags. SOOO unnecessary! Just put the fruit on the cashier's table as is...no bag...I have done this for over 30 years and no one has e er comained - and then throw them into the reusable shopping bag that you brought with you and from there into your fridge drawer. This simple change of habit could save hundreds of thousands of plastic bags from being used. Of coyrse, SOOOO ...more
By Kenny Mann (3), Sag Harbor on Dec 3, 18 2:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Of course, not of coyrse...sorry for typos!
By Kenny Mann (3), Sag Harbor on Dec 3, 18 2:14 PM
Kenny, look at the conveyor that you put your fruits, veggies and other fresh goods, Nasty. Biodegradable bags? Do we have the science to do it?
Great ideas, need alternatives before a ban...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Dec 4, 18 10:12 AM
You don't wash fruits and veggies before consumption?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Dec 4, 18 10:20 AM
You know, there was a time before plastic? There are plenty of alternatives available. Brown paper bags (renewable resource) or how about a good old fashion burlap bag?
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Dec 5, 18 11:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
Sure, ban plastic containers, but let's keep the huge mansions that suck up all the energy, have huge carbon footprints, and use tons of pesticides for the manicured grounds. And how many drive huge SUVs? Hypocrites everywhere.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Dec 4, 18 6:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
THANK YOU Babyboo!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Dec 6, 18 7:16 AM
You lost me with the carbon footprint, anti SUV schtick Boo. I agree that the heavy use of pesticides is not doing our environment any good at all.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 6, 18 7:24 AM
Most McMansions install energy efficient systems unlike the decades old infrastructure of most middle class homes. I won't pretend that their carbon footprint isn't large but in this case, your outrage is misguided. I will agree on the lawn fertilizers though. And nitrogen-reducing septic systems absolute must be mandated for new construction.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Dec 12, 18 11:53 AM

By AL (83), southampton on Dec 5, 18 8:37 AM
Just an FYI - Individually wrapped disposable straws are $12.00/box 500 on am.... I'm stockpiling now! Oh and town, store-owners, your bag ban/fee... I'm ordering everything online and having it UPS'd to me in tons of wrapping materials. When you're going out of business and can't figure out why? Now you know.
By DisgustedHamptons (58), Hampton Bays on Dec 10, 18 3:52 AM
Baby It’s Cold Outside
By Ditch Bum (929), Water Mill on Dec 11, 18 9:44 AM
BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! Paper cups work just fine and always have done so. Styrofoam is cheap, but never breaks down in the trash stream. The East End if facing a REAL garbage crisis. I hope everyone read the excellent 3-part series in the SH Press (Bravo!) about our garbage stream. It's coming to a dead end, folks. Trash is no longer wanted by China. The economics has broken down in terms of recycling values and there are few places left for East End haulers to dispose of our trash outside ...more
By Dodger (161), Southampton Village on Dec 12, 18 11:22 AM