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Groton board debates ban on plastic bags, polystyrene

GROTON —Members of the Select Board are looking to prevent local environmental damage by banning single-use plastic bags from retail stores and polystyrene containers from restaurants.

During the board’s meeting on July 29, members discussed Town Counsel’s proposal to establish a bylaw that would ban the frequently-used plastic bags from check-out counters at local retail stores.

The idea would be to encourage consumers to have reusable check-out bags, some made out of recycled plastic, on hand with them while shopping without having to constantly use and then discard the plastic bags.

Single-use plastic bags are often tossed aside and are not biodegradable, with piles left in landfills emitting greenhouse gases, proponents said.cohas

Selectman John Giger, who first asked the board if they were interested in establishing a bylaw last fall, said at the meeting that Town Counsel “liked the bylaw” proposed but recommended the board look up other towns’ bylaws that banned plastic bags as an example to follow.

“I believe the town of Cohasset’s bylaw mostly ties together with what I’ve drafted,” Giger said.

Fellow board member Becky Pine and Vice Chair Josh Degen both agreed that Cohasset’s bylaw, which was passed at its Town Meeting on April 30, 2018, was a good model for Groton to follow.

Giger even noted the benefit of reusable bags versus single-use bags.

“My wife goes shopping and keeps 10 of those recyclable bags in her back seat,” he said. “You pay a dollar for them and they last a lifetime.”

The board moved to modify its proposed bylaw to follow that of Cohasset’s. Once the town solidifies its bylaw proposal, it will go up for public vote at the fall Town Meeting on Oct. 21.

The board also briefly discussed requesting the Board of Health to prohibit food establishments from using polystyrene containers. These refer to the “clamshell” styrofoam containers often used by restaurants to package food for customers to take out with them. These products are also unable to be recycled. Giger noted how other towns had adopted their own polystyrene bans back in 2012 and 2014.

“Because it involves food, it has to involve the Board of Health,” Giger said.

“I think it’s worth putting something on the books in case something happens in the future,” Pine said.

The board approved a motion for the Board of Health to further consider a restriction on polystyrene.

Jon Winkler: @MrJW595 on Twitter

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