ALBANY — Here’s one county government that doesn’t suck.
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy on Thursday signed an executive order banning single-use plastic straws and stirrers from all county departments and operations.
The order comes as local governments and businesses are increasingly reducing usage, citing environmental impacts and plastic-choked waterways.
“We cannot sit idly by while we pollute our planet and pass the buck to our children,” McCoy said in a statement.
County departments will now begin using compostable, recyclable or reusable options.
McCoy believes the order sets a positive precedent for residents as he asks lawmakers to consider legislation for a countywide ban, which he formally introduced Thursday.
“With this initiative, we are first applying these important standards to ourselves before we ask the rest of the community to do the same,” McCoy said. “In doing so, we are investing in the market of the future, one that doesn’t rely on petroleum, but instead materials that are biodegradable.”
His proposed legislation would exempt individuals with disabilities, medical and dental facilities and pre-packaged drinks sold in stores.
The first violation would carry a warning. Fines would start at $50 before capping at $250 for the fourth and subsequent offenses.
McCoy’s executive order and proposed ban comes weeks after efforts in the city of Schenectady fell flat: Legislation failed to make it out of committee after lawmakers questioned how the law would be enforced.
The City Council instead passed resolutions asking for action at the state and county level.
“Sometimes you have to take a leadership position,” said Councilman John Polimeni, co-sponsor of the failed legislation. “It sounds like [McCoy] took a leadership position. He’s leading through example and forcing change on a larger level, and quite frankly, that’s what the city should have done.”