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Surfrider NYC Chapter Victories

A look at some of our campaign victories over the years.

Skip the Stuff Bill

Completion Date: February 1, 2023

The Skip the Stuff Bill asks for restaurants, food delivery apps, and online delivery platforms to give out single use plastic utensils, napkins and condiments only when it is requested by the customer. This bill was introduced by NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in October 2019 and signed by Mayor Eric Adams on February 1st, 2023.

Not only will this bill reduce the amount of single use items in circulation, it will also save restaurants money. Read more on our blog here.

Hotel Toiletry Bottles Ban

Completion Date: December 22, 2021

New York Governor Hochul signed into law bills A5082 and S543 on December 22nd, 2021. These bills originally passed by the State Legislature in April 2021. These bills take effect on January 1st, 2024 for all hotels with more than 50 rooms, and one year later for all smaller hotels. This gives hotels plenty of time to adapt and come up with alternatives to those tiny toiletry bottles such as using large, reusable and refillable containers for shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

This is another great win to reduce plastic pollution and this switch would save hotels money as well! You can read more about those bills at the links above.

Plastic Straw Upon Request Bill

Completion Date: November 1, 2021

In early May 2021, the New York City Council passed a bill to reduce plastic straw usage.

The bill dictates that establishments will only be allowed to give out a plastic straw if a person asks for one. This is not a full ban on plastic straws in order to accommodate people with disabilities who may require the use of a straw. This bill was sponsored by councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and will be another great step to combat plastic pollution in NY and protect our beaches and oceans. The bill took into effect on November 1st, 2021.

Plastic Bag Ban

Completion Date: October 2020

The plastic bag ban officially took effect in March 2020, but enforcement only began in October 2020. The reason why the enforcement took longer was because of a lawsuit from plastic bag manufacturers. Now that it is in effect and enforced, stores could face fines up to $500 if they are not complying.

This plastic bag ban is a huge win to reduce single use plastic pollution as it is estimated that New Yorkers use around 23 billion plastic bags each year, most of those ending up in landfills, waterways and streets.

Some places are exempt from this ban such as restaurants (they can still give out single-use plastic bags for takeout) and stores can still use plastics for uncooked meat, prepared food and prescription drugs.

Foam Food Containers Ban

Completion: 2020

The ban of foam food containers took effect on January 1st, 2022. The three NY Chapters helped to ban expanded polystyrene (EPS) food containers and packing peanuts, commonly known as styrofoam, statewide in New York. Cuomo signed bills S7508 and A9508 as part of the 2021 state budget process on April 3, 2020.

This is a huge win as EPS food and beverage containers are frequently littered or blown out of garbage cans and into our rivers, parks, and beaches. The material then breaks up into tiny pieces, increasing toxin exposure to marine life and littering our beautiful state.

EPS is incredibly difficult and inefficient to recycle and does not biodegrade. Styrene, a known carcinogen within EPS, may leach into hot liquids and food, which we then consume. There are plenty of safe and more sustainable alternatives to EPS already in use by businesses and many other states across the country are also looking to ban EPS foam. As we work to ensure our communities are healthy and clean, eliminating EPS will reduce litter and make our waterways and beaches more fishable, swimmable, and enjoyable. 

Offshore Oil Drilling

Completion: 2019

New York Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation that bans any oil and gas drilling, infrastructure, or exploration in New York waters.

All three Surfrider chapters in New York have been campaigning to support this legislation since 2018, when it was introduced for the first time.

This campaign fits into the larger, coast wide campaign to stop the Trump Administration from expanding offshore oil drilling along the East Coast. Chapters have held events to educate the public about the dangers of offshore drilling, attended rallies, and communicated with their elected officials.

The federal government, through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), still has the authority to sell oil and gas drilling leases outside of New York’s state waters, which extend three miles from shore. However, this legislation makes oil drilling much more difficult and expensive for oil companies.

5 Cent Fee on Paper Bags

Completion: 2019

The NYC Chapter along with the BagitNYC coalition succeeded in passing legislation putting a 5 cent fee on all single use checkout type paper bags.

Port Ambrose LNG Facility

Completion Date: November 12, 2015

Hold Your Butts

Completion Date: August 2011

Cigarette butts have long been the number one item found on NYC beaches and beaches throughout the country, and continue to take a toll on our marine environment as they wash into the sea. In 2010, the NYC Chapter planned a campaign to address this form of litter while not taking a position on smoking itself.

In early 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a law banning smoking in NYC parks and beaches. This includes the boardwalk at Rockaway. The law took effect May, 2011.

Late in 2010, the chapter conducted beach cleanups in Rockaway and focused on cigarette butts, counting each one. This gave the chapter “before” data. The Chapter partnered with Keep America Beautiful, KAB, on researching the appropriate cigarette butt receptacle for the Rockaway Beach area. KAB also provided 250 personal ashtrays for adult smokers that the chapter is distributing to further address the litter problem.

The Chapter, KAB, and the Rockaway Beach Park Administrator Jill Weber worked together on finding appropriate butt receptacles and appropriate placement. A pilot project of six such receptacles got underway in the summer of 2011. There will be beach cleanups collecting “after” data to measure the effectiveness of these receptacles.

No LNG Island in NY & NJ

Completion Date: July 2010

The Atlantic Sea Island Groups, ASIG, withdrew their application to build a giant man-made island to serve as an LNG terminal in the Atlantic between NY and NJ. The NYC Chapter, ably assisted by the Central Long Island and Jersey Shore Chapters, fought the proposal for years with the help of the NJ-based Clean Ocean Action. The Chapters gathered petition signatures to both NY and NJ Governors, they packed public hearings, they held press conferences, and they did paddle-outs. They even got the City of Long Beach, NY to send a letter to NY Governor Paterson opposing the project. Long Beach would have been the closest land to the island, 13 miles offshore. The island would have covered over 60 acres above the surface and more than 100 acres of the seafloor on the Cholera Banks, a natural reef and noted fishing area. Supertankers filled with LNG would unload at the facility and the gas would be piped to shore and up NY and NJ gas lines. Huge security zones would leave the area off limits to fishing, diving, and boating.

Bigger Better Bottle Bill

Completion Date: April 2009

Environmental groups from across New York successfully passed the Bigger Better Bottle Bill as part of the 2009-10 state budget. This momentous achievement is the first major overhaul of the state’s bottle deposit law since it was created in 1982, and caps a grueling nine-year campaign to expand and update the law. The update expands New York’s bottle return law to include water bottles, which comprise nearly a quarter of all beverages sold in New York. The law also requires beverage companies to return 80 percent of the unclaimed bottle and can deposits to the state, generating upwards of $115 million annually for the General Fund. “The Surfrider Foundation looks forward to cleaner beaches as a result of the improved bottle bill in NY. Thank you to the legislators who championed this cause and the ones who compromised to allow this,” said Steff Zellinger, volunteer with the New York City Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

New Surfing Beach in NYC

Completion Date: July 2007

The New York City Chapter convinced the NY City Parks Department to open an additional surfing-only beach in Rockaway at 67th Street.

Check out these articles for more details:

Long Beach, NY Beach Fill

Completion Date: May 2006

The city of Long Beach, NY voted against a poorly designed beach fill plan of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Check out these articles for more details: