Albany County legislator Chris Higgins introduced a new law that would extend a polystyrene foam ban already in place in the county. The expansion would ban plastic foam cups and to-go containers for all businesses in the county.
Currently, the polystyrene foam ban, passed in 2013, only applies to chain restaurants with more than 15 locations. Though polystyrene foam is also used for raw meat, poultry, and seafood packaging, the ban applies to just cups and to-go containers.
The expanded ban has been met with mixed emotions, as some county leaders are critical of the ban’s potentially negative financial impact on small businesses, especially smaller restaurants.
Small restaurant owners argue that without polystyrene foam, they would have to resort to more expensive containers which, in turn, would lead to an increase in prices for customers. In addition to its cost-effectiveness, foam is preferred to alternatives because of its durability and dependability.
Rather than banning the product outright, Albany County should focus on expanding their polystyrene recycling efforts. Foam is already recycled in areas across the country, and when recycled properly, it can be used for domestic building products, surfboards, smoke detectors, rulers, and garden nursery trays.
Any ban would shift the conversation away from the logical alternative—recycling—and prove to be unproductive and damaging to Albany County’s small business owners.