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Suffolk County Contemplating Restrictions On Plastics, Styrofoam

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Suffolk County is mulling a crackdown on plastics and foam containers.

Lawmakers say, if successful, they hope it would lead to state legislation, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.

Suffolk may soon go strawless, vying to be the first county in our area to apply such restrictions.

"Plastic straws that were found on the beach. 'Polystyrene clam shell,' they're called," Suffolk legislator Kara Hahn said.

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Plastic Straws
(credit: CBS2)

Hahn said she hopes her four-part bill will pass as early as this spring.

Suffolk restaurants could give out straws only on request. Polystyrene containers, plates and cups would be banned.

Biodegradable containers and straws are more expensive to produce and purchase. The plastics ban bill is being challenged by the New York State Restaurant Association,
and the American Chemistry Council is defending foam packaging.

"As soon as the industry catches up with the bills I think it's going to be great for everybody," said Nick Voulgaris, owner of Kerber Farms Provisions, adding when asked how he'd absorb the costs, "I think as small businesses integrate that it's sort of taking a little bit off the bottom line, but I'm a sailor."

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As a sailor, Voulgaris said he is aware of the global result when man-made materials don't decompose. They litter our beaches and roadways, killing our sea life and wildlife.

Recently, Brentwood High School students said they spent a semester studying the crisis.

"These are pieces of plastic and polystyrene that we found in our marshes while conducting research," student Catalina Garcia said.

"It's really dangerous to see the impact that it has on our environment and how it affects our animals," Linda Mejia added.

Suffolk was the first county in our area to charge for plastic bags.

"These things are bold. I know with the plastic bags there was a lot of push-back," county legislator William Spencer said.

But lawmakers said it is reducing use and predict the same for straws and Styrofoam.

Chains such as Starbucks, McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts say they are voluntarily phasing out plastic straws.

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