The Albany County Executive is using an executive order to fight against plastic waste, raising some eyebrows in the county legislature.
Democrat Dan McCoy announced an executive order Thursday banning single-use plastic straws and stirrers from county departments and operations, including vendors supplying the county with goods and services. County departments must now begin using compostable, recyclable or reusable options. McCoy says "it's great day for the environment." "So by us immediately going to paper straws, ensures, in all of our county facilities, including our Shaker Place Nursing Home and the Times Union Center and all or our buildings, will definitely set the stage, and it will show people that we can do it. We had a record year at the Times Union Center last year, and it continues through this year as people come from outside the county, they're gonna have an opportunity, they probably won't even realize they're using paper straws. And maybe they'll bring it back to their counties, say 'hey, you should do that here."
McCoy has also submitted legislation requiring that all businesses and organizations offering beverages for public consumption follow suit. His ban would not apply to individuals with disabilities or other impairments requiring the use of plastic straws. Medical and dental facilities would be exempt, as would pre-packaged drinks sold in stores.
McCoy's executive order surprised Albany County Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce and Legislator Joanne Cunningham, prompting them to issue a statement that they've already begun the process with Local Law F, introduced in May and slated for a public hearing in later this month. Joyce, a fellow Democrat, is quoted as saying “We are happy to see the County Executive is taking steps to make Albany County greener. Why he wants to push similar initiatives the Legislature has already been working on is a bit of a mystery."
McCoy dispels that notion. "I've been working on this, this has been part of my green initiative for many years, way before they introduced this legislation."
- Scroll to the bottom to view McCoy's Executive Order
McCoy hopes state legislators will propose a similar ban. "I also hoped it was gonna start passing locally so I said 'hey, you know what? I'm gonna lead by example.' "
For her part, Cunningham says McCoy's "surprise" was a pleasant one: "We've been working on this issue and really a broader issue to try to get rid of single-use plastic in Albany County, so I'm very glad to have his leadership and his energy added to this discussion and I'm looking forward to our next step in the legislature to make this happen."
Later this month, former EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck will be in the county to lead a discussion on plastic pollution... "...and what you can do about it. It's free, open to the public, I want to especially encourage students to attend, and it's Thursday evening September 26th at 7 p. m. at the Bethlehem School located at 332 Kenwood in Delmar."