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East Aurora proposes plastic ban

Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 18:28:22-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Earlier this year, the state banned plastic bags. East Aurora is taking things one step further by proposing a ban on single use plastics as well.

"East Aurora would be a cleaner place without them, plastics are just horrible for the environment, they kill animals and Styrofoams can be toxic toward humans," said 17-year-old Anthony Mercurio.

Anthony is the son of Mayor Peter Mercurio. He said he was inspired by his science teacher and wrote up a draft piece of legislation that the village used as code for the new local law.

It's being called the Environmental Stewardship local law. It would eliminate plastics that people use once and throw away.

"It is mainly for restaurants, any establishment that serves food and has for instance plastic straws, [that's] one specific thing that it's aimed at," said Village Administrator Cathy Thomas.

Here's the list of banned plastic items:

  • Forks
  • Spoons
  • Knives
  • Straws
  • Containers
  • Lids

The alternative is anything compost-able. Thomas says East Aurora is an environmentally aware community.

"There are actually a number of those that won't have to change anything because they're already complying with the law," said Thomas.

Places like the Griffon Gastropub and Bar Bill Tavern, according to Mercurio. Bar Bill has already made the switch to cardboard take out boxes and paper straws.

"I wouldn’t say that it was easy, paper takes up quite a bit more space, we’re space constrained, it’s a little bit more costly than plastic, but overall it was positive for our business," said Bar Bill owner Clark Crook.

Crook was asked by customers to make the changes.

The local environmental group ACEs, Aurorans for Climate and Energy Sense, also pushed for the change.

"The main reason people still use plastics is because they cost less...if everybody starts using biodegradable products, the cost will come down and we have an idea that if everyone buys in bulk," said ACEs president Ellen Neumaier.

If violated, establishments will receive a warning for the first violation, $100 fine for the second violation, $200 fine for the third and $400 for the fourth. Thomas said she hopes it doesn't come to this.

ACEs will be giving out awards for those who are doing their part for the environment.

"There’s a lot of people doing the right thing and we want to encourage and do it in a positive manner not a punitive one," said Neumaier.

There will be a public hearing on August 19th to discuss the proposal. The Village Board will make the decision based on that feedback.