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       Joined by fourth grade students of Joseph D’Aquanni West Road Intermediate School, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro signed a resolution into law last week which prohibits the use of polystyrene foam food containers in Dutchess  County by chain food service establishments. At its October 10th board meeting, the Dutchess County Legislature approved the resolution by a 23-1 vote.

       Molinaro signed the resolution into law at West Road Intermediate School in Pleasant Valley. This past June, students in teacher Barbara Kurdziel’s third-grade class at West Road School invited Molinaro to their classroom. Ms. Kurdziel’s students read letters they had written to him voicing their displeasure about foam cups and the impact on the ecosystem.

      “To see the students’ passion for their environment and their willingness to speak up about an issue that concerned them was refreshing and inspiring. I told the class I was proud they had done their research, and I would share the information they gathered with the members of the Dutchess County Legislature,” Molinaro said.  “Just a few months later, legislators have passed a resolution that will greatly impact these students, their families and their community.”

       Polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, has been identified as a potential human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Polystyrene foam is also poorly biodegradable, has also been historically difficult to recycle and can be toxic when burned.

    The law will take effect immediately and be enforced starting January 1, 2019. It prohibits food chains which have 15 or more locations nationally, operate in Dutchess County, and provide prepared foods for public consumption from selling, packaging or distributing food in polystyrene foam containers. County government departments and facilities will be prohibited from using disposable food service containers containing polystyrene foam at any county facility or event.

    The law does contain exemptions, including an exemption for establishments that demonstrate a gross income below $500,000  and are unable to find a cost-neutral alternative to Styrofoam food containers.

     The first violation of the law will result in a written warning notice that specifies the penalties, no greater than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses,  in the event of future violations.

     Dutchess County Legislator Don Sagliano, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said, “I’m happy my legislative colleagues and I listened to these young voices and addressed an issue that not only impacted them, but our entire county. I appreciate Ms. Kurdziel and her students for bringing the matter to the Legislature’s attention, and I’m proud Dutchess County has such conscientious children who have their community’s best interest in mind.”

Hudson Valley News  is published weekly on Wednesdays.

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Molinaro Signs Law Prohibiting Use of Polystyrene Foam in Dutchess County

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