Albany County legislators recently voted down an expansion of the polystyrene foam ban already in place. Legislators passed a law banning foam products in chain restaurants in 2013, but the proposed expansion to extend the ban to coffee cups and to-go containers was opposed 21-16, with one abstention.
Not to be confused with Styrofoam, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, polystyrene foam is most often used in foodservice products like carryout containers, egg cartons, coffee cups, and lids. It’s easily identified by the #6 chasing arrows symbol stamped on the products.
Todd Drake, a representative from Latham, said the proposed expansion is detrimental to small business and community organizations. Forcing restaurants and small business owners to switch to foam alternatives will lead to higher costs and more headaches. More than 100 business owners submitted letters and petitions in opposition of the measure.
Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, is happy with the Legislature’s decision. “Our restaurants were particularly ticked off that they were being singled out,” he said. “Most of our members would like the choice, not have that decision dictated for them.”
Instead of focusing on banning the product, Albany County should instead focus their efforts on recycling education. Polystyrene foam is already recycled in select areas across the country. There’s even a polystyrene drop-off location right in Albany County. Shelter Enterprises in Cohoes accepts used polystyrene foam, and strives to develop new and innovative products using this material.
When properly recycled, polystyrene foam can be remade into products like picture frames, interior crown molding, garden nursery trays, rulers, and ballpoint pens.