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Feb 13, 2019 9:26 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Approves Ban On Plastic Straws And Polystyrene Products, Starting In May

Southampton Town Board member Julie Lofstad introduced the bill to place a ban on plastic straws and polystyrene products. GREG WEHNER
Feb 13, 2019 10:12 AM

Southampton Town Board members on Tuesday unanimously approved a ban on the use of plastic straws and polystyrene foam containers in food establishments in the town.

The town became the second municipality on the East End, following East Hampton Village, to put such a ban in place.

The regulations, which go into effect on May 8, prohibit food service establishments from using containers made of polystyrene foam—often referred to as Styrofoam—along with plastic straws and stirrers.

Town Board member Julie Lofstad proposed the legislation, which was backed by the town’s Sustainability Committee. During a presentation in November, members of the committee estimated that visitors and residents discard nearly 20 million straws and 8 million polystyrene foam cups per year, which was based on a national average of 175 million straws per day and the yearly and seasonal population of Southampton.

“In the grand scheme of things … this may be a small step, but I think it’s a very, very important step,” Ms. Lofstad said.

Under the regulations, food establishments will be permitted to have in their possession up to 20 plastic straws, to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While all other straws will be banned, the 20 straws on the premises can be provided upon request to those with physical disabilities who may require plastic straws.

Joseph Glorioso, a member of the Sustainability Committee, told board members at a meeting on Tuesday that the committee surveyed 80 of the approximately 240 restaurants in the town and its villages, and 90 to 95 percent of the owners were in agreement that a move to ban straws and polystyrene containers was a move in the right direction.

Not a single person came forward who was opposed to the ban during two public hearings that were held on the matter.

Even Town Board member Christine Scalera, who admitted to being opposed to similar bans in the past, including a ban on single-use plastic bags enacted five years ago, supported the new law. She said she typically prefers offering incentives to businesses, rather than mandating such choices, because it takes time for them to conform to new laws.

But in this case, she said she actually heard from businesses who supported the ban, and none that opposed it. “That’s probably a good sign,” Ms. Scalera said, “because I know that when the plastic [bag] ban was sent out, I got a barrage of requests to ‘please not do this,’ because it would hurt their business model.

“I think people are coming on board, so I think this is a win-win,” she added.

In 2011, both Southampton Village and East Hampton Village banned single-use plastic bags in stores, and Southampton Town followed suit in 2014. A ban on plastic bags went into effect in Suffolk County at the beginning of 2018, and Governor Andrew Cuomo is currently looking to do the same statewide.

“I hope the rest of the county and the state takes notice of what’s happening in Southampton Town,” Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni said. “Perhaps we can do away with using something for 15 minutes, at the most, that will last over 400 years and then break down into microplastics.”

Colleen Henn, the Surfrider Foundation chapter coordinator for the East End, said that in 10 recent cleanups on town beaches, a total of 260 straws were removed. She also said that during a beach cleanup last weekend at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays, crews removed 300 pieces of polysytrene foam, each smaller than a quarter.

With a ban in place, Ms. Henn said she remains excited about the future of the town. “Hopefully, it means we will be seeing less trash on our streets, in our streams and on our beaches,” she said.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman applauded the measure, noting that Southampton is a sensitive marine environment. He acknowledged that polystyrene products are problematic and last a long time, and that alternatives such as bamboo straws are available to use.

“All you have to do is see the images of marine life that are impacted, and of course you want to change things,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I love the idea of people thinking of our area as being environmentally responsible. It’s a place where they want to live—a place that is taking the steps necessary to protect our resources.”

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 13, 19 9:44 AM
Hats off to them for taking the initiative for change. Let these dinosaurs who cling to the past suffer the same fate as them.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Feb 13, 19 9:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By NateNewtown (99), east on Feb 13, 19 2:56 PM
I'm actually 6'4"
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Feb 14, 19 10:10 AM
Time to hoard straws...
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Feb 13, 19 10:28 AM
BRAVO!!!! This is GREAT for our environment and our sea life!!

No need to hoard straws ppl... you can still buy plastics straws in the store if you choose to be part of the problem an not the solution. Or if they are needed due to a disability. But I think we can all handle this simple change to better our planet. Most stores are selling reusable And biodegradable straws....Target, Bed Bath & Beyond have them .
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Feb 13, 19 3:29 PM
2 members liked this comment
I've started carrying around a reusable metal straw, no big deal.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 13, 19 3:57 PM
Small government becoming big government. See John Stossel's Green tyranny. So what do you use when you get takeout? It's Corningware,just bring it back when you're done. Do you know a pizza box can't be recycled if it has just a bit of grease on it. Yes, the world is going to pieces but when you're burger or chinese is cold when you get back to the office don't complain. Oh and all you social justice warriors who are going to say I'm not for the environment but buy new cars every 3 years, don't ...more
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 14, 19 5:47 AM
They should also ban those little plastic thingies at the end of a shoelace- think of all the shoelaces we throw out every year!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Feb 14, 19 6:46 AM
This is wonderful news!! Hopefully StonyBrook Southampton Hospital will now be made to stop using these type of products. One of the biggest users of these products in their café>
By J. Totta (106), Sag Harbor on Feb 14, 19 7:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Who knew adults cared about straws so much.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Feb 14, 19 7:05 AM
In Town offices, have all the incandescent bulbs been replaced with LED lighting for 90% less electricity use? Are all new town purchased vehicles electric instead of gasoline powered for 90% less carbon emissions? Is every town owned building, taxpayer supported library, fire house, police station and school covered with solar panels? No, no and no.
Town officials love to make life more difficult and expensive for the residents, unless they are undocumented "work force". Everyone else is ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 14, 19 7:05 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Feb 14, 19 7:19 AM
Just read a very informative and excellent article on another site . Suffolk County is also pursuing this ban and for very good reasons.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Feb 14, 19 8:21 AM
3 members liked this comment
These cans are defective - they're springing leaks ! Come over here and look at this ! He hates these cans ! Stay away from the cans ! Get away from those cans ! ( The Jerk )
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 14, 19 9:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Will Code inforcement be tasked with counting the straws,or will be there be another department created?
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Feb 14, 19 9:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
The same code enforcement that can't enforce quality of life issues will now be raiding restaurants to count their plastic straws. Couldn't make this stuff up if you tried!
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Feb 15, 19 9:10 AM
re : Former FBI Dolt Steve Troyd
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 15, 19 9:27 AM
Single-use plastics are a primary source of marine plastic pollution, kudos to Southampton Town for reducing the amount of this terrible waste.

As several other commenters pointed out, this ban is low-hanging fruit. Next up, let's address the thousands of ageing septic tanks leaching nitrogen into our aquifers and estuaries. Let's decentivize idiots like myself driving massive, pollution belching, deadly to pedestrians/cyclists, 6000 pound vehicles with never used 4x4 differentials on ...more
Feb 22, 19 11:48 AM appended by Aeshtron
I received a reusable straw as a gift yesterday, the perfect gift for a smug libtard like myself ; )
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Feb 14, 19 11:48 AM
I think the advent of self-driving cars will bring about the end of traditional car ownership in favor of a subscription-style service, reducing at least some emissions when people are able to downsize their vehicle on the fly as needs change.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 14, 19 12:05 PM
These are the same town leaders that make up buy "town approved bags" made of plastic to dump our trash. there are much more pressing issues to the residents of the east end than plastic straws and containers like reasonable taxes and drinkable water
By smannoia (3), Hampton bays on Feb 14, 19 10:24 PM
When fish eat those little pieces of plastic, you are essentially consuming that same plastic when you sit down for dinner. And skip the sea salt because that contains microplastics. And the same goes for your drinking water.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Feb 15, 19 8:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
When politicians tell us what utensils to drink our beverages with, while fleets of government owned gasoline powered vehicles get traded in every two years, we have approached close to peak insanity. Let me see the Town mandate that Town officials and employees use the new LIRR shuttle train to get to the office, then they can tell me how to drink my smoothie.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 15, 19 9:25 AM
2 members liked this comment