Cape Elizabeth’s town city council has proposed ordinances on polystyrene foam as well as on paper and plastic bags.
Foam takeout containers, foam cups, and any other foam products could be banned in Cape Elizabeth. Additionally, customers who use a single use paper or plastic bag for their purchases could be charged a five-cent fee. However, after the town city council meeting last week, these proposals are being sent back to the ordinance committee for some extra research.
Cape Elizabeth’s council has been modelling their ordinances similar to the ordinances used in Portland and South Portland. However, those ordinances limit the single use bag fee to solely retail establishments that sell food and beverages. Fellow councilor Penny Jordan, refrained from voting on these proposals since she owns a business that could be impacted by this ordinance. She questioned why the ordinance would not include all retail establishments, and felt that she could not agree with singling one type of retail establishment over another.
“There are many other places in town that sell things in plastic bags with handles,” she said.
The ordinance committee is expected to take another look at these proposals at an upcoming meeting, before the ordinance changes again at its Oct. 11th meeting.
“As much as I would like to move this forward (to a public hearing), I think the appropriate step is to send it back to ordinance (committee),” said Council Chairman Jamie Garvin.
Taking another look at these proposed ordinances is a good idea for Cape Elizabeth. Polystyrene foam is a recyclable material and implementing a ban would not reduce waste. Individuals would dispose of the new product in the same way they did the banned product.
Educational recycling programs are a great way to teach residents about the harms of littering and only then will Cape Elizabeth move in the direction of a waste-free community.
Likewise, enforcing a ban on solely retail establishments that sell food and beverages is very unfair. Some of these establishments are family-owned restaurants that cannot afford the alternatives to foam products. These alternatives will cost certain institutions on average, 2.5 times more than polystyrene products.
Hopefully Cape Elizabeth will take a good look at their upcoming ordinances and choose to implement recycling programs instead of instilling a concrete ban.