Over the next few days, public hearings will be held before the town boards of Southampton and East Hampton, regarding new laws aimed at banning most uses of polystyrene.
East Hampton is first up, with its hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 17, at 6:30 PM at the East Hampton Town Hall Meeting Room at 159 Pantigo Road. The proposed new amendment to the town code would ban almost all uses of polystyrene, also known by the brand name Styrofoam, in the food service industry. The sale of polystyrene coolers and packing peanuts will also be banned.
The law will include exceptions allowing the continued use of polystyrene trays as packaging by butchers and fish mongers. In addition, foods prepackaged outside of East Hampton before they are shipped to an East Hampton store in polystyrene packaging will be allowed. Also exempt from the ban are polystyrene containers used by fish wholesalers for shipments outside the town of East Hampton. According to Sylvia Overby, the town board member who crafted the law, it closely mimics the ban on polystyrene imposed by East Hampton Village this past August.
If approved by the East Hampton Town Board, the new law will go into effect about April 22. The delay is to allow retailers to deal with their current stock of the soon-to-be-banned items.
The public hearing on a similar ban in the Town of Southampton will be held at the Hampton Bays Community Center, 25 Ponquogue Avenue, Hampton Bays, on January 22, at 6 PM. The law is drawn along very similar lines as the one in East Hampton, with most of the same exceptions. The one exemption in the proposed East Hampton law not included in the Southampton version is allowing fish wholesalers shipping fish out of the town to use polystyrene cooling cases, an industry norm.
However, the Southampton town amendment goes much further than that proposed in East Hampton in that, essentially, it bans the distribution at food markets of all plastic straws and stirrers, whatever type of plastic they are made from. If the law is approved, customers will only be given straws or stirrers upon request, and they would have to be made of biodegradable materials, not plastic.
Overby said last week that East Hampton Town is likely to follow Southampton Town’s ban on plastic straws and stirrers. “It is the next piece of legislation,” she said.
If approved, Southampton’s new law will go into effect May 8, allowing retailers time to dispose of their current stock.