Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed into law on Tuesday a ban on the sale or distribution of polystyrene foam containers, commonly known by the brand name Styrofoam, within the county.
Styrofoam is often used for take-out containers and coffee cups and is a common packaging material.
“Today, Nassau County is taking a big step towards the future,” Curran said when signing the bill into law at Jeremy’s Ale House in Freeport.
Polystyrene has been classified as a carcinogen and its nonbiodegradable material has led to large quantities of hazardous waste and environmental pollutants.
“While that coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup that was holding it won’t be,” she said. “It will break down into small pieces – clogging our waterways, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife and even damaging local industries like fishing and tourism.”
The ban is to go into effect Jan. 1, which gives business owners about six months to deplete their stock of the foam containers before they will be fined up to $2,500 for their use.
The money obtained from fines will be allocated toward environmental investigation and cleanup of Nassau County properties.
The measure passed the County Legislature unanimously last month and was sponsored by legislators from both sides of the aisle, including Laura Schaefer (R-Garden City), Debra Mule (D-Freeport) and Denise Ford (R-Long Beach).
Ford said that the ban will not only reduce the waste stream in the county and provide reductions in waste disposal costs, “it will also help unclog our waterways and better protect our natural environment.”