ALWYN ECKER, a high school senior and Brunswick resident, holds polystyrene litter gathered along the Androscoggin River at Monday’s meeting.

ALWYN ECKER, a high school senior and Brunswick resident, holds polystyrene litter gathered along the Androscoggin River at Monday’s meeting.

BRUNSWICK

The Brunswick Town Council voted unanimously to ban polystyrene foam containers Monday night before a packed house of ban supporters.

The ban, sponsored by Councilors Steve Walker and Kathy Wilson, will affect businesses using the material as a single use, disposable food or beverage container.

At one point in the hearing, a supporter of the ban finished speaking and asked all those in favor of the ban to stand. The number of people standing drew comments from councilors and Chairwoman Sarah Brayman, who were all encouraged to see such a turnout.

Alwyn Ecker, one of the supporters and a high school senior, brought in a garbage bag full of polystyrene litter she had gathered in only an hour along the Androscoggin River near the Green Bridge.

Ecker said she wanted people to keep in mind that her collection was only from a small area of the vast shorelines and riverbanks in Maine.

“I hope we can do something about this. Even though this is just a small step in reducing and eliminating Styrofoam in our environment, it is the small steps like this that make larger things happen,” Ecker said to loud applause from the room.

Speaking as a business owner and Brunswick resident, Becky Shepherd of Wild Oats Bakery stepped forward in favor of the ban.

“I just want to make it clear from a business perspective that in no way is this a hardship on businesses. There are a host of alternatives that are available,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said that many of the alternatives are around the same cost and conceded that while some cost more, the reduction in waste and increase in business from people who appreciate a business’ decision to forgo polystyrene will offset any additional cost.

Marcia Harrington, co-founder of Bring Your Own Bag Midcoast, pointed out preserving the natural beauty and marine resources of the Midcoast is paramount — especially since both are tied to the local economy in tourism and fishing.

Not everybody was pleased, however, with simply banning the use of polystyrene products in local businesses. Jim Trusiani called on the town council to take on big retailers who use excessive foam in packaging electronics and furniture.

Trusiani told the council not to “pick on” local wholesalers and retailers, but to pick on themselves for purchasing all the electronics and furniture in the town offices — all of which came packed in Styrofoam.

Under the new ordinance, retailers who have items shipped to them in polystyrene containers will not have to repackage those items and may sell them in their original containers. The ban also does not include polystyrene used for the sale and packaging of live or raw seafood, such as lobster shipping containers.

Brayman said the exact date of enforcement of the ban would be posted on the town’s website.

The first violation of the ordinance in a one-year period would result in a warning, the second violation within a year would result in a $250 fine, with each subsequent violation resulting in a $500 penalty.

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Penalty part

THE FIRST VIOLATION of the ordinance in a one-year period would result in a warning, the second violation within a year would result in a $250 fine, with each subsequent violation resulting in a $500 penalty.


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