Coastal Journal

Brunswick has become the latest Maine community to ban plastic foam packaging.

The Brunswick Town Council voted unanimously Monday in favor of banning polystyrene foam containers used for food and beverages, such as Styrofoam coffee cups. The ordinance is similar to one adopted in Portland and South Portland.

Brunswick’s ban will take effect in April, but it will not be enforced until October, to give businesses time to transition to other products.

The ban was initially brought to public attention through the efforts of Bring Your Own Bag, a group founded to enact a fee on plastic bags and ban polystyrene foam.

“The members of our group are really devoted to this town, we really want what’s best for Brunswick and the state of Maine,” said Marcia Harrington, co-founder of BYOB. “We had 30 outreach events, we’ve talked to hundreds of citizens, we’ve found tremendous support.”

The public hearing drew a rare standing-room-only crowd as residents of Brunswick and surrounding towns came out in support.

Alwyn Ecker, a senior at Waynflete School in Portland, held up a large bag full of foam and a jar of small pieces of trash she had collected in an hour along the waterfront of the Androscoggin River.

Only one member of the public spoke against the ban, saying that the town would be hypocritical to enact it when it uses Styrofoam.

“Every time you buy a new computer, a new desk, it comes packaged with foam,” said Jim Trusiani. “Don’t pick on retailers or stores, pick on yourselves.”

The vote to enact the ordinance came earlier than originally intended, as the council had planned to allow ample time for public comment and hold the vote on April 4. However, the large amount of support for the ordinance, with almost no opposition, led council to push the vote ahead.

“I was a person who was in favor of laying out the schedule far in advance, however I have been very moved,” said District 3 Councilor Suzan Wilson.

Multiple councilors chimed in to support an earlier vote because of the overwhelming support.

“The expression in support of this ban has been so overwhelming that I just can’t imagine that there will be any constructive comment yet to come,” said District 5 Councilor Dan Harris.

Council Vice Chair Steve Walker, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Councilor-at-Large Kathy Wilson, applauded the efforts of BYOB and said he looks forward to more activity from the group.

“We’ve got lots of environmental issues facing this community, and I hope we can keep up this level of energy,” said Walker.

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