Rye Brook considering restricting plastic straws


To be environmentally responsible, First Village Coffee in Ossining uses biodegradable straws and cups, and sells reusable metal straws. Seth Harrison, [email protected]

It might be the last straw for plastic straws in Rye Brook.

The Village Board of Trustees is considering legislation that would make plastic straws available only upon request to customers in all village food establishments.

If the law passes, establishments would still be able to carry plastic straws, but would have to place them behind counters and not offer them unless requested. A financial penalty would be associated with noncompliance.

“Plastic straws contribute to so much of the un-recyclable trash that either is in our landfills or in our oceans,” said Village Mayor Paul Rosenberg. “Making people ask for plastic straws is a reasonable request rather than outright banning them. This is meant to make people think before they use.”

Rosenberg said he expects a vote in the coming months.

“This will absolutely pass,” he said. “There is broad support for this.”

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For straw-friendly folks, the village is encouraging businesses to use straws made out of paper, plant, vegetable and other natural products.

While some businesses in Orangeburg in Rockland County and Ossining in northern Westchester have voluntarily limited plastic straw availability, Rye Brook officials say they would become the first municipality in Westchester and Rockland counties to pass plastic straw legislation.

“I’m all for recycling,” said resident Gus Carmona. “I don’t think too many people are going to be asking for plastic straws. As long as the thing works.”

Movement gains steam

As private companies like Starbucks and American Airlines have voluntarily pledged to drop plastic straws, city and state governments nationwide are pushing for broader legislation.

“The straw issue is an emerging issue nationwide,” said state Assemblyman Steve Otis, D-Rye.

A bill is being considered in the state Legislature that would ban plastic straws in all restaurants and bars in New York. The bill is currently being considered in the Environmental Conservation Committee.

In July, Seattle became the first city to ban restaurants from giving plastic straws to customers, while in September, California became the first state in the nation to ban plastic straws. The ban, which carries a $1,000 fine, goes into effect in 2019.

New York City and Hawaii also have pending straw ban legislation.

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