The Business Council of New York State opposes S.8817 (Hoylman) / A.4739 (Fahy) which would ban the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging containers.
Over the next year, it is of paramount concern that New York State’s economy recover in the most expeditious way possible from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses, which characterize our neighborhoods and provide localities with jobs and tax revenue, are struggling to survive and will need every advantage available to weather the effects of the pandemic. During this time of unprecedented challenges, The Business Council recommends that any policies that could have a calamitous impact on the vitality of countless small businesses, from the north county to the five boroughs of New York City, be tabled in favor of legislation designed to ensure their survival.
A broad ban on PFAS in packaging would have broad impacts on New York’s economy, from paper mills to neighborhood restaurants. Such a significant policy should only be advanced after thorough examination by the state’s elected officials in concert with stakeholders, the business community, and members of the public. At a time when representatives and staff are difficult to contact, the New York State Capitol remains closed, and voting on legislation is being conducted remotely, policymakers cannot possibly be fully informed of the impact such a proposal would actually have on New York’s recovery. At minimum, the legislature should hold hearings and proceed in a transparent fashion so that those standing to be impacted by this policy will have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion so that any final policy will balance all needs and account for all contingencies and outcomes.
This proposal overlooks the negative economic impact of such a ban. Consider that as New York’s economy reopened last month, state tax revenue has languished as tax receipts were down by $1.5 billion from the previous year. Is this really the time to place additional burdens on this industry that would result in challenges for both consumers and business owners?
The packaging industry is one of the state’s largest manufacturing sectors and employ nearly 38,000 New York residents. A sudden and comprehensive ban of PFAS would very likely force companies to streamline their operations and reduce business costs, which could result in lost jobs. Workforce reductions are far too often becoming the norm in New York State and in order to stymie the trend, legislators must consider the broad implications of their policies and the economic impacts these decisions have on businesses, employees, and contractors alike. A better New York hinges on the outcomes of decisions made in Albany.
Last, the packaging industry has made significant strides toward reducing the environmental impact of its products without legislation compelling them to do so. Because this industry has demonstrated a willingness to engage and adapt, perhaps the outcomes desired in this legislation could be better achieved using incentives rather than mandates.
For these reasons, The Business Council must oppose S.8817 (Hoylman) / A.4739 (Fahy).