By Carlotta Mohamed
State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Richmond Hill) introduced a new bill Monday to ban single-use plastic straws in state and municipal-run food establishments except in cases of medical necessity.
Weprin’s legislation (A11381) amends the state environmental conservation law and public health law in relation to prohibitions on single-use plastic, and would result in a notable reduction of plastic waste in the environment.
“Banning plastic straws in government-run facilities, except in the few cases of medical necessity, is a simple yet effective means to reduce the harmful accumulation of plastic pollution in our environment,” said Weprin. “This bill will enable New York state to join a growing list of cities, municipalities, and countries that have taken steps to reduce the use of single use plastics.”
According to Weprin, plastic pollution is a significant threat to marine habitats, ocean life and natural water systems. Non-biodegradable and non-recyclable plastics, like single-use straws, dissipate into smaller pieces over time and remain in water sources long after being discarded.
The carcinogenic microplastics are then ingested by wildlife, some of which are part of human food samples, according to Weprin.
Microplastics have also been found in drinking water supplies across the world, including New York.
Additionally, more than 175 million single-use plastic straws are discarded in the United States each day, with billions of straws sent to landfills or incineration facilities annually, forming an additional source of land and air pollution, Weprin said.
“New York state must be a leader in protecting our environment, food supplies, and water supplies for the use of future generations,” said Weprin.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha