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To clean up city, Oswego bans Styrofoam, smoking, vaping, adds more trash cans

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
Oswego City Hall.

As part of its push to clean up the city, Oswego is banning the sale and use of Styrofoam and is also banning smoking and vaping on city-owned properties. The Oswego Common Council voted in favor of Mayor Billy Barlow’s “Keep Oswego Clean Initiative,” Monday night. 

After spending millions of dollars revitalizing Oswego and improving its parks, Barlow said the city may have overlooked some basic environmental policies, which prompted him to propose this package of reforms.

“That includes things like making sure these areas are free from litter, trying to avoid Styrofoam, which isn’t biodegradable," Barlow said. "As a waterfront community, I think we have more of a responsibility or obligation to protect our environment than other municipalities do.”

Delis, construction material and nonprofit activities are exempt from the Styrofoam ban.

“But if you are selling the Styrofoam or using it for your business, just to make a sale or for a to-go container, that is not exempt,” Barlow said.

Styrofoam used for meat packaging is exempt because of a “lack of alternative materials.” But other larger chains, like Dunkin' Donuts, will have to switch to paper cups and stores will no longer be allowed to sell styrofoam plates, cups, etc. The law goes into effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2020.

The Styrofoam ban will be enforced by the city’s codes department. The police department will enforce the smoking ban.

Other parts of the clean initiative package includes doubling the amount of trash cans downtown and in city parks, and doubling the fine for littering, from $100 to $200.

Oswego is also supporting New York State’s plastic bag ban, which goes into effect in March, by purchasing and giving away $3,000 worth of reusable bags to residents.  

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.