The Business Council opposes this Executive Budget proposal that would impose a statewide ban on the sale and use of disposable polystyrene food containers by food service providers, manufacturers or stores as of January 1, 2022. The bill language provides an exemption for prepackaged food filled or sealed at a food service provider, as well as for those food service providers that can demonstrate undue financial hardship.
Moreover, this proposal also gives the Department of Environmental Conservation broad authority to adopt “regulations to limit the sale, use, or distribution of” any other packaging products it determines to have “environmental impacts.”
The Business Council of New York State, Inc., the state’s largest statewide employer association, opposes the polystyrene ban provisions of this legislation. We also oppose the excessively broad, almost unfettered authority it would grant DEC to impose additional product bans, with essentially no statutory criteria or limitations. The bill also imposes a fee on businesses who violate the ban, adding financial hardship to small businesses already operating on thin margins.
Polystyrene packaging meets the demands of today’s consumer demands by offering an economical and high-quality food service product. Consumers enjoy the benefits of sturdy and strong polystyrene foodservice containers. Polystyrene packaging insulates extremely well to maintain food temperature, which can reduce food waste due to spoilage or damaged packaging and leakage. It is used by numerous businesses because it meets customer needs at a reasonable price.
It should be noted that the United States Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the safety of food contact packaging, has approved the use of polystyrene since 1958, as have numerous governments around the world.
At a time when the state legislature should be considering approaches to improve the state’s business climate, particularly in upstate regions, this legislation would ban the principal product at least ten upstate manufacturing plants, employing 2,000 individuals. As stated in our recent report, Manufacturing by the Numbers: A Profile of New York's Manufacturing Sector by Jobs, Wages and Regional Impact, manufacturing provides high paying jobs, and represent a significant share of private sector jobs and wages in economic regions across upstate New York.
The Business Council strongly supports government action to address critical environmental and health issues, using effective, efficient and workable approaches. Imposing product-specific bans, rather than more systemic issues in the state’s recycling programs, is the wrong approach.
For these reasons, The Business Council urges the Legislature to reject this Executive Budget proposal.