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Suffolk County (NY) Ban of Plastic Grocery Bags and other Plastic Food Containers

Chapter 301, FOOD LABELING AND PACKAGING ARTICLE II, Uniform Packaging Practices for Retail Food Establishments
[Adopted 3-29-1988 by L.L. No. 10-1988 EN]
[Amended 4dec91]

301-7. Legislative intent.

A.         This Legislature finds that discarded packaging constitutes the largest single category of waste within Suffolk County's waste stream and is, therefore, a necessary focus of any effort to reduce the filling of the municipal landfills within Suffolk County, as well as to reduce the economic and environmental costs of waste management for the citizens of this county.

B.         This Legislature also finds that discarded nonbiodegradable packaging and plastic contained within the waste stream of Suffolk County is a fundamental cause of problems associated with municipal waste disposal.

C.         This Legislature further finds that landfill space within Suffolk County is diminishing rapidly; that state law currently in effect precludes the establishment of new landfills on Long Island within deep-flow recharge areas after 1990 and mandates closure of existing ones in these groundwater-sensitive areas by that date; that solid waste receiving areas outside of Long Island are becoming increasingly uncertain and expensive; and that, for both economic and environmental reasons, measures to simplify the chemical complexity of solid waste and, thereby, streamline solid waste management must be vigorously pursued.

D.         This Legislature hereby finds that the chemical composition and ability of a substance to biodegrade are meaningful and useful criteria to focus upon when establishing public policy that is intended to improve the management and disposal of solid waste, reduce the cumulative impact of litter, encourage composting and other forms of recycling, minimize the potential for toxic substances to form if solid waste is burned, reduce the volume of ash by-products that may be created by any burning of waste plastic packaging and otherwise anticipate environmental problems that may be caused by municipal solid waste disposal programs.

E.         This Legislature also hereby finds and determines that the use of plastics and other nonbiodegradable packaging has become widespread throughout the County of Suffolk and that the resulting mixed substance waste stream is a serious impediment to many solid waste management programs that are being considered for this county.

F.         This Legislature further finds that the widespread use of plastics, especially polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, poses a threat to the environment in the County of Suffolk by causing excessively rapid filling of landfill space or, if incinerated, by the possible introduction of toxic by-products into the atmosphere and general environment of Suffolk County.

G.         This Legislature finds that the economic and environmental problems associated with Suffolk's mixed-substance waste stream are so severe that a program to incrementally simplify the chemical composition of solid waste, thereby reducing environmental hazards and toxicity associated with solid waste incineration and encouraging the composting of putrescible biodegradable wastes and encouraging other forms of recycling of solid waste substances, is hereby determined to be a policy goal of Suffolk County.

H.         This Legislature determines that the waste stream within Suffolk County is so large and diverse that any program to establish policies and laws conducive to any waste management program in lieu of landfilling must identify and set new policy for those specific sources of waste packaging which originate within this county.

I.         This Legislature determines that certain retail establishments within Suffolk County are points of origin for a substantial volume of packaging waste and, therefore, are particularly susceptible to actions which have significant potential for simplifying the chemical composition of this portion of Suffolk's solid waste stream, thereby improving solid waste management within this county.

J.         This Legislature finds that the use of polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride for food packaging is problematical because neither of these plastic species is readily recyclable; their abundant commercial use in lieu of other plastic species such as polyethylene or polypropylene unnecessarily complicates the overall chemical composition of municipal waste and subtracts from the possible emergence of a viable plastic recycling market for this region; and, if burned together, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride leave a relatively heavier and therefore more expensive ash residue to dispose of which may also create dioxin, hydrochloric acid or other toxic chemicals that could be emitted into the general environment of Suffolk County.

K.         This Legislature finds that there are readily available plastic and/or paper product substitutes for most of the polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride retail food packaging now being used in Suffolk County, the use of which alternatives would be environmentally and economically advantageous to the people of Suffolk County.

L.         This Legislature finds that plastic bags in the waste stream constitute an impediment to the development of efficient waste separation, recycling or other waste management programs and are less desirable than paper bags because plastic bags are neither recyclable nor compostable.

M.         This Legislature finds that plastic bags used by retail establishments selling food constitute the largest single retail source of plastic bags in the waste stream.

N.         Therefore, the purpose of this Article is to incrementally, to the maximum extent practicable, eliminate the use of nonbiodegradable packaging originating at retail establishments within Suffolk County in order to protect the air, land and waters of Suffolk County against environmental contamination and degradation.


301-8. Definitions. [Amended 12-4-1991 by L.L. No. 34-1991]

NOTE: Local Law No. 34-1991 also amended 301-9, 301-11, 301-12 and 301-13 of this chapter and provided as follows: Section 1. Legislative intent.

This Legislature hereby finds and determines that Local Law No. 10-1988 was enacted as a first step in what will be an incremental process of comprehensively regulating the disposal of solid waste products and encouraging the use of biodegradable products in order to reduce the number of toxic or long-lived products in the wastestream within the County of Suffolk.

This Legislature also finds and determines that certain technical changes are necessary to fine-tune the provisions of this law in order to ensure a smooth transition from nonregulation into full implementation of said legislation, now that the authority of the County legislature to enact such legislation has been upheld by the New York State Court of Appeals.

This Legislature further finds and determines that retail food establishments should be encouraged to recycle and reuse packaging.

This Legislature further finds and determines that, for nutritional assistance homebound delivery programs, the use of packaging, otherwise prohibited under said local law, is necessary.

This Legislature further finds and determines that affected retail establishments should be allowed to use up preordered items because, in the absence of their ability to do so, these items would, in any event, be disposed of and ultimately placed into local landfills.

This Legislature also determines that additional retail establishments have sprung up since enactment of Local Law No. 10-1988 which are engaged in retail transactions that affect products covered by the original "Plastics Law."

The Legislature further finds that this local law will prevent needless economic harm to affected business establishments in Suffolk County, and allow such establishments to become familiar with the rules and regulations being promulgated by the County Department of Health Services and to identify and purchase alternate replacement items.

This Legislature also finds that a temporary delay in addressing the food tray and lid cover issue pending a formal study and assessment by the County Department of Health Services would be desirable.

Therefore, the purpose of this law is to clarify and enact technical modifications to Local Law No. 10-1988 for its smooth implementation, to encourage recycling and reuse of plastic packaging and to allow retail food establishments to exhaust existing inventories over a reasonable period of time, including an expansion of the scope of the law to conform to changes in the marketplace and to afford a reasonable transition period for the implementation of the food tray and lid cover provisions. Section 3. Applicability.

A.         This law shall apply to all transactions occurring on or after January 1, 1992.

B.         Section 301-9B of the Suffolk County Code shall not apply to food trays prior to January 1, 1993. The Commissioner shall conduct an assessment and evaluation of the issue of using biodegradable packaging for meat trays from a public health perspective only and report his or her findings to the County Executive and County Legislature no later than October 1, 1992. The County Legislature may then act on such findings no later than November 30, 1992.

C.         Section 301-9B of the Suffolk County Code shall not apply to lids or plastic covers prior to January 1, 1993. The Commissioner shall conduct an assessment and evaluation of availability of biodegradable packaging as a substitute for plastic lids or plastic covers and report his or her findings to the County Executive and County Legislature no later than October 1, 1992. The County Legislature may then act on such findings no later than November 30, 1992.

D.         Enactment of this law shall not affect the validity of any fines or sanctions imposed prior to the effective date of this law for violations of Local Law No. 10-1988.

As used in this Article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING -- Packaging made of cellulose-based or other substances that undergo significant changes in its chemical structure as a result of the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae. The ultimate products of this process should be carbon dioxide, water and compost (humus). This biodegradation process does not generate any intermediate or final products that would be detrimental to public health.

COMMISSIONER -- The Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

PACKAGING -- All food-related wrappings, adhesives, cords, bindings, strings, bags, boxes, containers and disposable or nonreusable plates, cups, eating utensils or drinking utensils intended for use within Suffolk County.

RETAIL FOOD ESTABLISHMENT -- Each sales outlet, store, shop or other place of business located within the County of Suffolk which operates primarily to sell or convey food directly to the ultimate consumer, which foods are predominantly contained, wrapped or held in or on packaging. "Retail food establishment" shall include, but not be limited to, any place where food is prepared, mixed, cooked, baked, smoked, preserved, bottled, packaged, handled, stored, manufactured and sold or offered for sale, including but not limited to each fixed or mobile restaurant, drive-in, coffee shop, cafeteria, short-order cafe, delicatessen, luncheonette, grill, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, roadside stand, prepared-food takeout place, industrial feeding establishment, catering kitchen, commissary, grocery store, convenience store, public food market, food stand or similar place in which food or drink is offered for sale or for service on the premises or elsewhere, and any other establishment or operation, including homes, where food is processed, prepared, stored, served or provided for the public for charge. [Amended 3-3-1992 by L.L. No. 5-1992 EN]

SMALL BUSINESS -- Any retail food establishment that provides food service and employs no more than 100 full-time employees. [Added 3-3-1992 by L.L. No. 5-1992EN]

301-9. Biodegradable packaging required. [Amended 12-4-1991 by L.L. No. 34-1991EN; 3-8-1994 by L.L. No. 3-1994]

NOTE: Local Law No. 3-1994 also amended 301-11 and 301-12 and added 301-17 and 301-18 and also provided as follows: Section 1. Legislative intent.

This Legislature hereby finds and determines that since the state-mandated closure of all Long Island landfills and enactment of the Suffolk County Plastics Law No. 10-1988, each of Suffolk's towns has implemented sound recycling programs to comply with state mandates and address source reduction.

This Legislature finds that excess packaging constitutes a major category of waste within Suffolk County's wastestream and that paper, in particular, is a fundamental concern associated with municipal waste disposal.

This Legislature further finds that recycling and/or source reduction can have a beneficial impact in alleviating the problems associated with municipal waste disposal.

This Legislature also finds and determines that the development and implementation of a sound recycling and source reduction program for plastic materials can have a major beneficial impact in reducing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal.

This Legislature finds that packaging, including polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, can be recycled into useful products.

This Legislature finds that the development and implementation of a recycling and source reduction program will be environmentally and economically beneficial to Suffolk County.

This Legislature finds that numerous businesses, schools and government agencies in Suffolk County have begun source separation and/or recycling programs.

This Legislature also finds that a written statement from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has determined that: "The materials the Local Law (Local Law No. 10-1988) proposed to ban are products that are potentially recyclable. As such, the ban on the use of polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride plastics may not have a positive environmental impact."

This Legislature also finds that Local Law No. 34-1991 directed the County Department of Health Services to conduct an assessment and evaluation of the use of meat trays from a public health perspective and to determine the availability of biodegradable packaging as a substitute for plastic lids or plastic covers, which report was issued on October 23, 1992.

This Legislature further finds that a study of the environmental impact of the plastics law, undertaken by the Waste Management Institute at the request of the County Executive and this body, was completed in September of 1993, and among the many recommendations, urged the law to promote recycling rather than attempt to ban certain items. To that end, Suffolk County hereby determines to aggressively pursue an educational program to foster waste reduction and recycling programs that support the findings of this study.

Therefore, the purpose of this Article is to reduce the volume of plastic now being disposed of as solid waste; to encourage the continuation and expansion of recycling by businesses in Suffolk County; and to encourage the use of recycled material in Suffolk County.

Section 2. Definitions.

A.         "Commissioner" shall mean the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

B.         "Packaging" shall mean all food-related wrappings, boxes, containers and disposable or nonreusable plates, cups, eating utensils or drinking utensils intended for use within Suffolk County.

C.         "Retail food establishment" shall mean each sales outlet, store, shop or other place of business located within the County of Suffolk which operates primarily to sell or convey food directly to the ultimate consumer, which foods are predominantly contained, wrapped or held in or on packaging. "Retail food establishment" shall include, but not be limited to, any place where food is prepared, mixed, cooked, baked, smoked, preserved, bottled, packaged, handled, stored, manufactured and sold or offered for sale, including, but not limited to, each fixed or mobile restaurant, drive-in, coffee shop, cafeteria, short-order cafe, delicatessen, luncheonette, grill, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, roadside stand, prepared food takeout place, industrial feeding establishment, catering kitchen, commissary, grocery store, convenience store, public food market, food stand or similar place in which food or drink is offered for sale or for service on the premises or elsewhere, and any other establishment or operation, including homes, schools, hospitals and nursing homes, where food is processed, prepared, stored, served or provided to the public at large, employees, students and visitors.

D.         "Small business" shall mean each retail food establishment that provides food service and employs no more than 20 full-time employees, except retail food establishments which are institutional food-service operations that serve food principally to the population and employees of and visitors to the institution rather than to the public at large.

No retail food establishment located and doing business within the County of Suffolk shall sell, give or provide individual eating utensils, individual food containers or other packaging to any consumers within the County of Suffolk if such individual eating utensil or individual food container is composed of polystyrene or polyvinyl chloride. Nothing contained herein shall, however, prohibit a retail food establishment from selling or offering for sale to consumers commercially prepackaged eating or drinking utensils sold in bulk, food containers sold in bulk or other packaging sold in bulk. This subsection applies only to eating utensils, food containers or other packaging which is added to or placed with a food product at the site of the retail food establishment.

301-10. Rules and regulations.

The Commissioner of the Department of Health Services shall issue and promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement and carry out the provisions of this Article.

301-11. Variances. [Added 12-4-1991 by L.L No. 34-1991 EN; amended 3-8-1994 by L.L. No. 3-1994EN]

The Commissioner may issue and grant such variances from the provisions of this Article as he or she shall deem appropriate, subject to the following requirements:

A.         A written application for a variance shall be submitted to the Commissioner.

B.         A copy of each variance application shall be submitted to the Clerk of the Suffolk County Legislature upon receipt by the Commissioner.

C.         The Commissioner may, in his or her discretion, request additional information from the applicant. No public hearing regarding the variance shall be held prior to receipt of such information.

D.         A public hearing regarding the proposed variance shall be held upon appropriate notice to the public and to interested parties. The Commissioner shall maintain a list of environmental organizations and other parties who have indicated a desire to be notified of all requests for variances. At a minimum, the Commissioner shall notify the applicant and those parties on the list described above for a variance by mail. The Commissioner shall notify additional parties upon request. The Commissioner may, in his or her discretion, supplement these notice provisions.

E.         The Commissioner shall approve or disapprove the application, in writing, within 30 days after the public hearing.

F.         The circumstances under which a variance may be granted shall be limited to the following:

(1)         A variance may be granted either for packaging utilized by one or more retail food establishments or on a product-wide basis for a particular type of packaging utilized by one or more retail food establishments.

(2)         A variance may be granted where the Commissioner is provided with satisfactory written evidence and finds and determines that a substitute product compatible with the requirements of this law is not commercially available to retail food establishments located and doing business within the County of Suffolk.

301-12. Exemptions. [Amended 12-4-1991 by L.L. No. 34-1991; 3-8-1994 by L.L. No. 3-1994EN]

Section 301-9 of this Article shall not apply to the following items:

A.         Any flexible transparent covering for uncooked or raw meat, poultry, raw fish, hard cheese, cold cuts, fruit and vegetable produce, baked goods or bread.

B.         Any food packaging used for in-room patient care only at hospitals, nursing homes or not-for-profit nutritional assistance programs such as Meals on Wheels or similar home-bound delivery services.

C.         Any paper or other cellulose-based packaging that is coated with polyethylene plastic on only one side.

D.         Any plastic covers, covering material, food containers, lids, eating utensils or straws that are not made of polystyrene or polyvinyl chloride.

E.         Point-of-sale packaging used for purchased goods that is intended for reuse and provided at the point of sale by the purchaser of the goods (carry-out grocery bag).

F.         Any food packaging that is used at a particular retail food establishment or other such self-contained site in which all of the particular waste plastic does not leave the confines of the building, is on-site separated from the other portion of the establishment's waste and is conveyed without being remixed with any part of the wastestream to an appropriate recycling plant or reprocessing facility:

(1)         This exemption may be utilized in a retail food establishment which meets the requirements of Subsection F, provided that the owner or operator submits a written assurance verifying that the requirements of Subsection F are and will be complied with. Such written assurance shall be submitted to the Commissioner on an annual basis.

G.         Any small business. To qualify under this exemption, the retail food establishment shall file written documentation with the Department establishing its status as such, signed and sworn to by the owner, payroll director or duly authorized individual of such establishment.

301-13. Enforcement. [Amended 12-4-1991 by L.L. No. 34-1991]

A.         This Article shall be enforced by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services in accordance with the provisions of Article II, 760-200 et seq., of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code.

B.         Any retail food establishments covered by 301-9 of this Article may use, sell, donate, provide or convey existing supplies of products or materials, the use of which would otherwise constitute a violation of this Article, through the 90th day after the rules and/or regulations implementing said law are finally issued and formally promulgated by the County Department of Health Services. The Commissioner shall promulgate such rules and/or regulations on or before December 31, 1991.

301-14. Penalties for offenses.

Willful failure to comply with 301-9 and/or the regulations of 301-10 of this Article shall constitute a violation punishable by a civil fine of $500 for each violation.

301-15. Determination of environmental impact.

A.         This Legislature, being the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) lead agency, hereby finds and determines that this Article constitutes an unlisted action pursuant to Section 617.2 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) and will not have a significant adverse impact on the environment within the meaning of 8-0109, Subdivision 2, of the New York Environmental Conservation Law for the following reasons:

(1)         Enactment of this Article will not exceed any of the criteria in Section 617.11 of Title 6 of NYCRR, which sets forth thresholds for determining significant effects on the environment.

(2)         The Article will mainly result in beneficial environmental impacts, including the following:

(a)         It will encourage recycling of solid waste products.

(b)         It will provide enhanced protection of groundwater quality.

(c)         It will slow down rapid filling of landfill space.

(d)         It will simplify the chemical composition of solid waste and thereby reduce the environmental hazards and toxicity associated with solid waste incineration.

(e)         It will reduce the cumulative impact of litter.

B.         Furthermore, in accordance with C1-4A(1)(d) of the Suffolk County Charter and 279-5C(4) of the Suffolk County Code, the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is hereby directed to prepare and circulate a SEQRA notice of determination of nonsignificance in accordance with the law.

301-16. Preemption.

This Article shall be null and void on the day that statewide legislation goes into effect incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this Article or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine via mere resolution whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation has been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.

Note: Local Law No. 4-1990, adopted 1-30-1990, delayed the effective date of the law appearing as this Article and provided as follows:

Section 1. Legislative intent.

This Legislature also hereby finds and determines that the use of plastics has become widespread throughout the county.

This Legislature finds that recycling and/or source reduction of packaging can have a beneficial impact in reducing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal.

This Legislature also finds that plastic packaging, including polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, can be recycled into useful products or can be reduced through source reduction.

This Legislature further finds that development and implementation of sound recycling and/or source reduction programs for plastic packaging materials can have a major beneficial impact in reducing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal in this county.

This Legislature further finds and determines that the imposition of a moratorium on the implementation of Local Law No. 10-1988 through January 30, 1990, does not provide sufficient time for the appeal of a lawsuit against Local Law No. 10-1988, entitled Society of Plastics Industry, Inc., et al., v. County of Suffolk, et al., to be determined nor sufficient time to establish a Plastics Recycling Commission to study the feasibility of developing a plastic packaging Recycling/Source Reduction Plan.

Therefore, the purpose of this law is to extend a moratorium on the implementation of Local Law No. 10-1988 so as to allow a Plastics Recycling Commission, to be created by law, sufficient time to analyze the feasibility of developing a plastic packaging Recycling/Source Reduction Plan and to allow the appeal of the above-described lawsuit against Local Law No. 10-1988 to be determined by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Section 2. Definitions.

A.         PLASTIC PACKAGING shall mean all food-related plastic wrappings, adhesives, cords, bindings, strings, bags, boxes, cups, containers and disposable or nonreusable plates.

B.         FOOD-RELATED PLASTIC PACKAGING shall mean plastic packaging used in retail food establishments.

Section 3. Moratorium.

The applicability date of Local Law No. 10-1988 to retail transactions is hereby extended and postponed to June 30, 1990, or until 60 days after the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York (2nd Department) issues a formal written decision in a case entitled Society of Plastics Industry, Inc., et al., v. County of Suffolk, et al., whichever date occurs first.

Local Law No. 19-1991, adopted 6-13-1991, provided for the subsequent implementation of this Article and reads as follows:

Section 1. Legislative intent.

This Legislature hereby finds and determines that the use of plastics has become widespread throughout the county.

This Legislature further finds and determines that the New York State Court of Appeals' decision in a lawsuit against Local Law No. 10-1988, entitled, "Society of Plastics Industry, Inc., et al. v. County of Suffolk, et al.," has upheld the validity of Local Law No. 10-1988 which would result in immediate implementation of said law.

Therefore, the purpose of this law is to clarify the process of implementation. Section 2. Moratorium.

The applicability date of Local Law No. 10-1988 to retail transactions is hereby extended and postponed to the ninetieth day after the rules and/or regulations implementing said law are finally issued and formally promulgated by the County Department of Health Services or December 31, 1991, whichever date occurs first.

Section 3. Applicability.

Enactment of this law shall not affect the validity of any fines or sanctions imposed prior to the effective date of this law for violations of Local Law No. 10-1988. Local Law No. 5-1992, adopted 3-3-1992, Section 3 of which amended 301-8 of this chapter, postponed the applicability of this Article and provided as follows:

Section 1. Legislative intent.

This Legislature hereby finds and determines that the use of plastics has become widespread throughout the county.

This Legislature finds that recycling and/or source reduction of packaging can have a beneficial impact in reducing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal.

This Legislature also finds that plastic packaging, including polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, can be recycled into useful products or can be reduced through source reduction.

This Legislature further finds that development and implementation of sound recycling and/or source reduction programs for plastic packaging materials can have a major beneficial impact in reducing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal in this county.

This Legislature further finds and determines that the imposition of a moratorium on the implementation of Local Law No. 10-1988 through December 31, 1992, for small businesses would provide sufficient time for a study of the feasibility of developing a comprehensive Plastic Packaging Recycling/Source Reduction Plan.

Therefore, the purpose of this law is to impose a moratorium on the implementation of Local Law No. 10-1988 so as to allow sufficient time to analyze the feasibility of developing a comprehensive plastic packaging Recycling/Source Reduction Plan and to alleviate the economic burdens that small businesses may experience if full implementation of the Plastics Law occurs prior to the development of a comprehensive Plastic Packaging Recycling/Source Reduction Plan and also to clarify application of Plastics Law to individual franchises.

Section 2. Definitions.

A.         PLASTIC PACKAGING shall mean all food-related plastic wrappings, adhesives, cords, bindings, strings, bags, boxes, cups, containers and disposable or nonreusable plates.

B.         FOOD-RELATED PLASTIC PACKAGING shall mean plastic packaging used in retail food establishments.

Section 4. Moratorium.

The applicability date of Local Law No. 10-1988 to retail transactions of small businesses is hereby extended and postponed to December 31, 1992. A retail food establishment that wishes to qualify under the provisions of this section shall file with the Department, no later than 45 days subsequent to the effective date of this law, written documentation establishing its status as a small business signed and sworn to by the payroll officer and/or owner.

Section 5. Applicability.

Enactment of this law shall not affect the validity of any fines or sanctions imposed prior to the effective date of this law for violations of Local Law No. 10-1988.

Local Law No. 10-1993, adopted 3-9-1993, extended the moratorium of this Article as follows:

Section 1. Legislative intent.

This Legislature hereby finds and determines that on November 20, 1991, Ray E. Cowen, Regional Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, testified before the Energy and Environment Committee of the County Legislature regarding the need to delay implementation of the "Plastics Law," Local Law No. 10-1988, to take a comprehensive look at alternatives to plastic and the effects of the Plastics Law on future recycling and solid waste control efforts.

This Legislature further finds that on June 17, 1992, the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality, underscored the need for a moratorium to study the Plastics Law and possible replacements thereof.

This Legislature further finds that the Suffolk County Recycling Commission also recommended that a study be undertaken of environmental impacts resulting from use, recycling and disposal of plastics and alternatives to plastics.

This Legislature further finds that dramatic changes have occurred in the solid waste, recycling and disposal fields over the past several years.

This Legislature further finds that these changes should be taken into account prior to implementation of Local Law No. 10-1988.

This Legislature further finds that implementation of Local Law No. 10-1988 prior to additional study may not be environmentally sound and may cause hardship to small businesses, as defined by the law.

This Legislature further finds that the Waste Management Institute of the Marine Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook, has agreed to conduct a study defining environmental problems associated with plastics and alternatives to plastic within the county's waste stream and to recommend appropriate legislation.

This Legislature further finds that the study would be conducted at no cost to the County.

This Legislature further finds that the Waste Management Institute is well qualified to conduct a study and has engaged in extensive research on solid waste management issues, including issues related to degradable plastics, thermoplastic stabilization of incineration ash and manufacture of lumber from recycled plastic.

This Legislature further finds that the expected completion date of this study will be within nine months of adoption of this local law.

Therefore, the purpose of this local law is to extend the moratorium on the applicability date of Local Law No. 10-1988, as amended, for small businesses to permit completion of the study by the Waste Management Institute.

Section 2. Moratorium extension.

The applicability date of Local Law No. 10-1988, as amended, to retail transactions of small businesses is hereby extended and postponed to September 30, 1993. The extended moratorium shall be applicable to all small businesses which have previously qualified for the moratorium. Any other retail food establishment that wishes to qualify for the moratorium shall file written documentation establishing its status as a small business, signed and sworn to by the payroll officer and/or owner, with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, no later than 45 days subsequent to the effective date of this law.

301-17. Recycling. [Added 3-8-1994 by L.L. No. 3-1994 EN]

A.         Each resident of Suffolk County is hereby strongly urged and encouraged to physically separate polystyrene (styrofoam) packaging from all other garbage or waste materials in those towns or villages in which a separate polystyrene packaging residential dropoff site (center) is offered as part of a municipally approved recycling program.

B.         The Suffolk County Executive is hereby authorized and empowered to notify all towns or villages located within the County of Suffolk to implement Subsection A of this section.

C.         Any town or village that enacts a law or resolution authorizing or establishing a separate polystyrene packaging drop-off site (center) is hereby requested to notify the Department within 30 days after enactment of such resolution.

301-18. Commercial recycling. [Added 3-8-1994 by L.L. No. 3-1994EN]

A.         All retail food establishments, hospital cafeterias, schools, nursing homes and corporation cafeterias, but not small businesses, may comply with 301-9 of the Suffolk County Code by establishing a program for the physical separation of the plastic packaging regulated by this Article for pickup by a carter or contract vendor, said program to be certified as acceptable for the purposes of this law by the Department.

B.         Section 301-9 of the Suffolk County Code shall not apply to any retail food establishment which has a program that accepts the return of nonbiodegradable packaging at a designated place of business pursuant to an approved program certified by the Department as acceptable or which has a program that offers consumers a choice between using biodegradable or nonbiodegradable packaging for transporting a purchased item at the conclusion of a sales transaction.

C.         Section 301-9 of the Suffolk County Code shall not apply to any retail food establishment, located within a town or village that has approved a recycling program in compliance with 301-17 of this Article, which retail food establishment has implemented an approved program certified by the Department as acceptable for the purpose of separating polystyrene products for direct conveyance to an appropriate recycling plant or reprocessing facility.

source: http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us/legis/ 18mar01

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