Greenfield Council passes plastic foam container ban

  • Foam to go containers at Brad's Place in Greenfield.

  • Dan Devine of Brad's Place in Greenfield fills up some take out containers with bacon cheeseburgers and fries. He says that converting to paper may cost him two to three times as much.

Recorder Staff
Thursday, June 16, 2016

GREENFIELD — Town Council passed an ordinance Wednesday night banning single-use, plastic foam take-out containers.

The ordinance, which passed by an 8-2 vote, as two councilors were absent, bans all single-use expandable polystyrene foam packaging — including Styrofoam cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers and trays — for prepared, ready-to-eat food. It applies to all retail food and/or beverage establishments in town, punishable by a $25-per-day fine enforced by the Health Department.

It will take effect in four months.

Councilors were unsure at first whether to vote on the ordinance Wednesday night, as the town’s attorney had not yet reviewed the language. However, Council Vice President Isaac Mass said the municipal attorney is not required to review the ordinance and the council can always come back and make necessary changes if an issue arises.

In November, voters decided they didn’t want the town to ban plastic bags or single-serve plastic bottles, but voted 2,499-1,752 in favor of banning plastic foam containers.

Although the council was overwhelmingly in favor of the ordinance, Mass and Precinct 9 Councilor Daniel Leonovich did not support it.

“I’ve spoken to businesses on Main Street, and these are people that are just barely making it, and they would have to increase their costs,” he said, adding if citizens have an issue with businesses that use Styrofoam, it would be better for them to express that concern to the business owners directly.

“I just feel that we are imposing this on businesses, and I just in general have a problem with that,” he said.

For Mass, the deal breaker was that the ordinance also bans organizations like churches, non-profits and disaster relief groups from handing out free meals in Styrofoam containers.

He made an amendment to modify the language of the ordinance to exclude establishments that provide food free-of-charge, as well as an amendment to extend the time businesses have to comply with the ordinance from four months to one year, but both were voted down. Mass also agreed with Leonovich, saying it will be more difficult for smaller businesses such as New Fortune Chinese and Adams Donuts to absorb the cost of shifting to paper products than for large chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Applebee’s.

However, At-Large Councilor Mark Maloni said both he and the Health Department have spoken to local businesses, and they are not anticipating the ordinance to be problematic.

“This is about setting a tone, this is really encouraging people to look at alternatives that do exist,” he said, adding that while Styrofoam may be cheaper at the moment, it doesn’t outweigh the long-term cost to the environment.

Precinct 8 Councilor Ashli Stempel echoed Maloni, saying, “There will always be a cheaper option, but that doesn’t make it the best or the right option.”

You can reach Aviva Luttrell at:
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