NYS lawmakers seek expanded ban on polystyrene foam containers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York State lawmakers are looking to ban foam containers, which many people might use to keep things cool this Memorial Day weekend.

This proposed law (A04943/S4414A) has been approved overwhelmingly by lawmakers in both the Assembly and the Senate. All it needs is for Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign off on the bill for it to become law.

Local environmental groups say plastic is the number one pollutant they’re seeing during clean sweeps, but that foam is also a big contributor.

State lawmakers have approved a bill to prohibit the sale or distribution of polystyrene containers for cold storage. Lawmakers say many times those foam coolers are left behind and end up in waterways. Local environmentalists are happy to see this bill move along.

“It’s definitely a contributing factor pollutant to our waterways and one cooler, one lid of a cooler makes its way to our waterways and gets broken up into hundreds if not thousands of additional pieces of plastic, which makes it even harder to cleanup,” said Elizabeth Cute, a program manager for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.

Two years ago, a ban on food and beverage foam containers and foam packaging peanuts went into effect, but foam containers for cold storage weren’t touched.

On the Assembly bill, there were only two no votes — one of them came from Assembly Member David DiPietro, a Republican who represents the Southtowns and parts of Wyoming County.

“There’s alternatives that are available reusable coolers or reusable containers that can be used medical foam coolers are excluded from the bill,” Cute said. She added that many stores are already moving away from polystyrene containers.

If the ban is approved by the governor, it would go into effect in 2026. A spokesperson for the governor says she will review the legislation. State lawmakers are in session until June 6.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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