East Hampton Town Bans Styrofoam

A piece of a Styrofoam cup on the ocean beach. A new ban on polystyrene in the town points to its prevalence among litter. Carissa Katz

During an East Hampton Town Board public hearing on a prohibition of polystyrene, commonly referred to as Styrofoam, on Jan. 17, nine people, some of them members of the Surfrider Foundation, spoke in support. No one spoke to oppose a ban, and the town approved it later in the meeting.

The code amendment, which adds polystyrene products to a law prohibiting single-use plastic bags, speaks to its classification as a possible human carcinogen, the difficulty in recycling it, and its prevalence among litter and in landfills in the town.

Inspired by “the power of one word in advertising,” Kathleen Kirkwood, chairwoman of the town’s recycling and litter committee, distilled her message to its essence. “Styrofoam: bad,” she said.

Under the new law, no stores shall possess, sell, or offer single-service polystyrene articles. It takes effect on April 22 or upon filing with the secretary of state, whichever is later, to allow retailers a period to dispose of existing inventory.