Yonkers plastic straw ban takes effect Sunday – Lohud

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Yonkers Mayor says up to 500 million plastic straws are used each year in the United States.

Yonkers lawmakers have signed legislation banning the city’s food and beverage establishments from providing plastic straws unless requested by customers with a special need for them. 

The ban, which goes into effect on Sunday, comes at a time when cities across the country are banning the product to curb negative environmental impacts. The prohibition starts the same day that New York starts enforcing its ban on the use of single-use plastic bags.

“In Yonkers, we are doing our part in being stewards of the environment and reducing the negative environmental impacts resulting from the manufacture and disposal of single-use plastic,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “These straws are most often used just once, but have lasting, global impacts on our waterways, wildlife and human health.”

“As many as 500 million plastic straws are used each year in the United States, yet the impacts on our environment last for generations. Let’s rid these straws from our roadways, streams and parks and continue to make Yonkers a greener, cleaner place to live,” Spano added.

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Plastic drinking straws are a top contributor to marine debris pollution, the city said. Most plastic straws are not biodegradable. They instead break down into smaller microplastics, releasing chemicals into the soil, air and water that are harmful to animals, plants, people and the environment.

The city’s ban was put into place nearly a year after Paideia School 15 students and local Girl Scout Troop 1730 advocated the city to enact a law banning single-use plastic straws to help combat the negative environmental impact of the manufacturing and disposal of those products.

Adam Al-Araidah, a fifth-grader at Paideia School 15, said, “It’s amazing” how just changing a few things can have a “major impact on this world.”

“We can save this world,” Araidah said as the mayor, students and other city officials looked on.

Enforcing the ban

Some 540 Yonkers food establishments have been notified of the new law, the city said in a statement. The Yonkers Consumer Protection Bureau will perform routine spot checks as part of its ongoing, annual inspection process and respond to complaints.

The law does exempt the retail sale of plastic straws to consumers who may need it for a medical necessity or disability. It also allows for the sale of off-the-shelf drinks such as juice boxes that arrive at the retailer with a plastic straw attached.

Any establishment violating the new law for the first time will be issued a written warning, followed by increasing fines after each subsequent violation. For a fourth infraction, a business could pay as much as $500. After that, a daily fine of $100 can be handed down until compliance is achieved.

All levied fines for violating the ordinance will be used to offset the cost of compliance or adherence to the law. The money may also be used to address the cost associated with waste removal and recycling.

Reports of single-use plastic straws at local establishments may be directed to the Yonkers Consumer Protection Bureau at [email protected] or 914-377-3000.

Twitter: @T_Cusaac

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