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Council to close loophole on bag, polystyrene bans

Changes target wider range of synthetic foams, plastics
By Ethan Andrews | Apr 02, 2018

Belfast — The City Council is preparing to close a loophole on last year's ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene takeout containers after learning that a local restaurant had found a way around the law. A second reading of proposed amendments is scheduled for the council's regular meeting April 3.

The two ordinances, passed by the council in August 2017 and enacted Jan. 1, prohibit businesses from using single-use plastic bags and expanded polystyrene foam cups and containers. A first offense carries a fine of up to $100. Additional offenses within a given year can draw fines of up to $250.

In March, the council considered denying Rollie's Bar and Grill a standard renewal of its liquor license and special amusement permit based on complaints that the business was still using plastic bags and polystyrene containers.

Ryan Otis, owner of the downtown restaurant, said he switched to extruded polystyrene, a smooth version of the expanded polystyrene that was banned by the city, and that a shipment of new bags made from corn was on the way.

The council approved the renewal, but resolved to tweak the ordinance so that it included variations in the banned materials. City Manger Joe Slocum wrote in his March 30 report to the council that cornstarch bags are a form of bio-plastic and are not biodegradable.

Amendments would remove the word "expanded" from the polystyrene ordinance and "plastic" from bag ordinance. The council approved a first reading of these amendments on March 20 and is scheduled to hold a second reading for final approval Tuesday night.

The City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Belfast City Hall, 131 Church St.


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Comments (1)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Apr 03, 2018 11:33

Ethan....Can you post a link to the new amended ordinance please.


Question, Is "shrink wrap" which is single use when shipping pallets a banned substance?  I see sheets of it blowing and trapped in bushes now that snow has melted.  Seems it should if it isn't.  A single pallet produces 20 times the amount of unbiodegradable plastic bags, at minimum.

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