Albany County legislators vote down proposed Styrofoam ban

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Albany County legislators held a vote Monday whether or not to expand current law that would prohibit all restaurants from using Styrofoam containers.

It’s a growing national trend, but some people are worried about the alternatives.

Most recycling companies can’t process polystyrene or Styrofoam products, so they usually end up in the trash. But they’re filling up landfills and take centuries to biodegrade.

That’s one reason why Albany County was considering expanding current law to ban all restaurants from using Styrofoam products.

“This would apply to little leagues, firehouses, church groups if they have food permits,” Mark Grimm (R- Albany County Legislative District 29) said. “There’s a big difference going from one material to a more expensive material when you deal with the kind of volume they deal with.”

Some restaurants say they struggle to find a ‘green’ alternative that also maintains heat. Even some paper cups have a plastic lining that can’t be recycled.

“I think there are a lot of restaurants out there who want to move in the right direction and be green and do the right thing for the environment, it’s just really a cost issue,” Melissa Fleischute, the President, and CEO of NY State Restaurant Association said.

Advocates of the law point to potential health risks linked to polystyrene. In addition, landfills are filling up with the product.

Companies don’t have the infrastructure to process it.

Grimm asks why not look for a breakthrough in recycling.

“We should be working together to improve recycling, not banning products that are going to cost more headaches for business, government, and non-profits.”

The Albany County Legislature voted Monday night. According to Grimm, the proposal failed with a vote of 21-16 with one abstention.

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