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Albany City Council Considers Styrofoam Ban


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A major aspect of living sustainably is to choose how we use our scarce resources. Council Member Konev introduced an ordinance to prohibit the use of polystyrene foam in take-out food packaging in the city of Albany. Approving this ordinance will lessen the use of petroleum for the short-term, frivolous purpose of eating a single meal, it will reduce persistent litter and landfill volume, and protect animals from ingesting this material.

Tuesday, Nov 5th at 7 pm. Albany Common Council's meeting at City Hall on Eagle St.  A city wide ban on Styrofoam will be discussed and it is guaranteed that it won't be passed without significant public support.

Here is a copy of the ordinance, as submitted and below that the letter sent with the ordinance:

Ordinance Number 14.21.10

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 313 (SOLID WASTE) OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY TO ADD A NEW ARTICLE VII IN RELATION TO POLYSTYRENE FOAM IN TAKE-OUT FOOD PACKAGING

            The City of Albany, in Common Council convened, does hereby ordain and enact:

Section 1.  Chapter 313 of the Code of the City of Albany is hereby amended by adding thereto a new Article VII to read as follows:

Article VII

Restrictions on Take-out Food Packaging

Section 313-56.  Findings and Intent.

The City of Albany Common Council finds and declares that:

(A) The City of Albany has a duty to protect its natural environment, its economy, and the health of its citizens.

(B) As litter, polystyrene foam is highly durable. There is a prevalence of polystyrene foam packaging littering City parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and wetlands. Polystyrene foam breaks into smaller pieces and because it is lightweight, may be picked up by the wind even when it has been disposed of properly. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into the local creeks, wetlands, and the Hudson River. This litter creates a financial cost to City residents and an environmental cost to natural resources.

(C) Animals and birds often confuse polystyrene foam with pieces of food, and when ingested, it can impact their digestive tracts, often leading to death.

(D) Prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam take-out food packaging and replacing it with biodegradable, compostable or recyclable food service products will protect the wetlands of Albany, the Hudson River, city residents and visitors, and will support the City's goal of  reducing waste and litter for a cleaner environment for generations to come.  Take-out food packaging that is biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable is the most responsible and sustainable choice for the City's citizenry and its environment. When products are recycled, natural resources are spared and landfill space is preserved.  Disposable food service were made from expanded polystyrene foam (commonly called Styrofoam) is not biodegradable, returnable, or locally recyclable.

(E) Biodegradable take-out packaging such as cups, plates, clamshell containers, and cutlery are now made from paper, sugarcane stalk, corn bi-products, and potato starch. As these products degrade, they pose less of a danger to the environment and are not a permanent blight on the landscape.

Section 313-57.  Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, words and phrases used are defined as follows:

(A) Affordable shall mean that a biodegradable, compostable or recyclable product may cost up to 15 percent more than the purchase cost of the nonbiodegradable, non-compostable or non-recyclable alternative(s).

(B) ASTM Standard shall mean meeting the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Standards D6400 or D6868 for biodegradable and compostable plastics, as those standards may be amended.

(C) Biodegradable shall mean the ability of organic matter to break down from a complex to a more simple form through the action of bacteria.

(D) Compostable shall mean all the materials in the product or package will break down, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g. soil-conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner.

(E) The Commissioner shall mean the Commissioner of General Services or their designee.

(F) Disposable Food Service Ware is interchangeable with "to go" packaging and "food packaging material" and includes all containers, clamshells, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, lids, straws, stirrers, forks, spoons, knives, napkins and other items designed for one-time use for prepared foods, including without limitation, service ware for take-out foods and/or leftovers from partially consumed meals prepared by food providers.

(G) Food Provider shall mean any vendor, business, organization, entity, group or individual, including retail food establishments, located in the City of Albany that offers food or beverage to the public.

(H) Person shall mean an individual, business, event promoter, trust, firm, joint stock company, corporation, non-profit, including a government corporation, partnership, or association.

(I) Polystyrene Foam shall mean blown polystyrene, and expanded and extruded foams (sometimes called StyrofoamTM) which are thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of monomer spheres (expanded bead polystyrene), injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blown molding (extruded foam polystyrene) . Polystyrene foam is generally used to make cups, bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays and egg cartons.

(J) Prepared Food shall mean food or beverages prepared by retail food establishments, which are served, packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed or otherwise prepared within the City of Albany . Prepared food does not include raw, butchered meats, fish and/or poultry sold from a butcher case or similar retail establishment.

(K) Recyclable shall mean any material that is accepted by the City of Albany recycling program, including, but not limited to paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard, and all plastics except Styrofoam items.

(L) Retail Food Establishment shall mean all sales outlets, stores, shops, vehicles or other places of business located within the City which operate primarily to sell or convey foods or beverages directly to the ultimate consumer, which foods or beverages are predominantly contained, wrapped or held in or on packaging. Retail food establishment shall include, but not be limited to, any place where food is prepared, mixed, cooked, baked, smoked, preserved, bottled, packaged, handled, stored, manufactured and sold or offered for sale, including, but not limited to, any fixed or mobile restaurant, drive-in, coffee shop, cafeteria, short-order cafe, delicatessen,

luncheonette, grill, sandwich shop, soda fountain, hotel, motel, movie house, theatre, bed and breakfast inn, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, roadside stand, take-out prepared food place, industrial feeding establishment, catering kitchen, mobile food preparation unit, commissary, special event, grocery store, public food market, produce stand, food stand, or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for sale, or for service, on the premises or elsewhere, and any other establishment or operation where food is processed, prepared, stored, served or provided for the public and any organization, group or individual which provides food as part of its service.

(M) Special Events Promoter shall mean an applicant for any special events permit issued by the city or any city employee(s) responsible for any city-organized special event.

Section 313-58.  Polystyrene Foam Disposable Food Service Ware Prohibited.

(A) Food providers within the City of Albany may not provide prepared food in any disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene foam.

(B) Disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene foam is prohibited from use in all City of Albany facilities.

(C) City of Albany contractors in the performance of city contracts and special events promoters and vendors may not provide prepared food in disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene foam.

Section 313-59.  Required Biodegradable Compostable, Or Recyclable Disposable

Food Service Ware.

(A) All food providers within the City of Albany utilizing disposable food service ware shall use biodegradable, compostable or recyclable products, unless there is no affordable alternative available as determined by the Commissioner. Food providers may charge a "take-out fee" to cover any difference in cost.

(B) All City of Albany facilities utilizing disposable food service ware shall use products that are biodegradable, compostable or recyclable.

(C) City of Albany contractors, and special events promoters and vendors utilizing disposable food service ware shall use biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable products while performing under a City of Albany contract or permit.

Section 313-60. Exemptions for Biodegradable, Compostable or Recyclable Food Service Ware.

(A) The Commissioner may grant up to a one-year extension for the implementation of requirements set forth in this Article upon the food provider showing, in writing, that this Article would create an undue hardship or practical difficulty not generally applicable to other persons in similar circumstances. The Commissioner shall put the decision to grant or deny a one-year exemption in writing, and the Commissioner’s decision shall be final.

(B) An extension application shall include all information necessary for the Commissioner to make a decision, including but not limited to documentation showing factual support for the claimed exemption. The Commissioner may require the applicant to provide additional information.

(C) The Commissioner may approve the extension application in whole or in part, with or without conditions.

(D) Foods prepared or packaged outside the City of Albany and sold inside the City of Albany are exempt from the provisions of this Article. Purveyors of food prepared or packaged outside the City of Albany are encouraged to follow the provisions of this Article.

Section 313-61. Enforcement and Notice of Violation.

(A) Violations of this Article may be enforced in accordance with Article 258 of this Code.

(B) The Commissioner shall be responsible for enforcing this Article and shall have authority to issue citations for violations.

(C)  The City of Albany, in accordance with applicable law, may inspect any vendor or food provider's premises to verify compliance.


Section 2.  This ordinance shall take effect 90 days following its passage and signing into law.

APPROVED AS TO FORM

January 22, 2010

 

          _____________________

Corporation Counsel




TO:                 John Marsolais, City Clerk

FROM:           Anton Konev, Council Member

RE:                 Request for Common Council Legislation

                        Supporting Memorandum

DATE:           January 20, 2010      

ORDINANCE NUMBER 14.21.10

TITLE:  AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 313 (SOLID WASTE) OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY TO ADD A NEW ARTICLE VII IN RELATION TO POLYSTYRENE FOAM IN TAKE-OUT FOOD PACKAGING

GENERAL PURPOSE OF LEGISLATION:  To prohibit the use of Styrofoam containers as take-out containers within the City of Albany and to require recyclable or biodegradable containers.

NECESSITY FOR LEGISLATION AND ANY CHANGE TO EXISTING LAW:  This ordinance will assist the City in reducing landfill waste and protecting the natural environment, economy, and the health of citizens.  Polystyrene foam is highly durable and is responsible for a portion of litter in the City and pollution of the rivers and creeks.  Prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam take-out food packaging and replacing it with biodegradable, compostable or recyclable food service products will protect the wetlands of Albany, the Hudson River, city residents and visitors, and will support the City's goal of  reducing waste and litter for a cleaner environment for generations to come. 

FISCAL IMPACT:  None.


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