Plastic straws, stirrers banned at Albany County Facilities

September 12, 2019 11:14 PM

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy announced Thursday he signed an executive order banning single-use plastic straws and stirrers from Albany County departments and operations, including vendors supplying the county with goods and services.

According to  a release sent out, county departments will now begin using compostable, recyclable or reusable options. McCoy also submitted legislation that would require all businesses and organizations that offer beverages for public consumption to follow suit.


“Each year approximately 8.8 million tons of plastic are thrown away. It eventually makes its way into our overburdened landfills or worse – they clog our drainage systems, flow into our waterways and oceans and threaten ecosystems,” said McCoy.  “We cannot sit idly by while we pollute our planet and pass the buck to our children. With this initiative, we are first applying these important standards to ourselves before we ask the rest of the community to do the same. In doing so, we are investing in the market of the future, one that doesn’t rely on petroleum, but instead materials that are biodegradable.”

The ban would not apply to individuals with disabilities or other impairments requiring the use of plastic straws, including those living at Shaker Place Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Similarly, medical and dental facilities would be exempt, as well as pre-packaged drinks sold in stores.

Any establishment that violates the Local Law would first be issued a warning. A second offense would lead to a $50.00 fine; a third offense would mean a $100.00 fine; and the fourth and subsequent offenses would lead to a $250.00 fine.

However, the Albany County Legislature has been working on its own legislation regarding plastic straws since May. A public hearing for “Local Law F” is scheduled for Sept. 24. The law would require Albany County restaurants and eating establishments to provide straws and plastic cutlery only upon request.

Albany County Chairman Andrew Joyce said they didn’t want to propose a flat out ban because of the impact it could have on small businesses. He said it is unlikely they will amend the legislation to create a complete ban, but he said the McCoy’s executive order will help push their legislation forward.

"Having the issue on the forefront and talking about it and discussing it is going to help and take some of the shock off this legislation that we are proposing in terms of how the public interprets it,” said Joyce. “It makes it easier for folks to kind of understand and accept that we're not ban happy, we're trying to help the environment."


Emily De Vito

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