BRUNSWICK, Maine — The Brunswick Town Council voted unanimously Monday evening to ban polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam, food containers beginning in October.
The vote followed a public hearing before a standing-room-only crowd at which 16 people spoke, all but one in support of the ban, council Chairwoman Sarah Brayman said.
The ban, which takes effect on Oct. 1, will prohibit any retailer, restaurant or vendor from using polystyrene foam packaging including take-out containers, meat trays and egg cartons, according to the ordinance. It does not apply to polystyrene used for sale or packaging of live or raw seafood, and retailers will still be allowed to keep items shipped to them in polystyrene in the original packaging.
Councilor Kathy Wilson, who co-sponsored the proposal with Councilor Steve Walker, said Tuesday that she was impressed but not surprised at the large crowd.
“Brunswick is a very progressive town, I think,” Wilson said. “A very civic-minded bunch of people, and this is one of the better things we can do for ourselves and for the future, for our kids.”
Brayman also credited the town’s recycling and sustainability committee for its work on the proposal to ban the petroleum-based, lightweight plastic material. The committee examined similar ordinances in Freeport and Portland, she said.
Among the reasons cited for the ban, the ordinance states that “polystyrene foam is a common pollutant that fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by marine life and other wildlife, thus harming or killing them.”
During February and March, town officials, Brunswick Downtown Association and the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber held three informational sessions for business owners and residents.
Brayman said she only received emails and phone calls in support of the ordinance, although she said one person spoke Monday against the proposal, telling the council they should also ban Styrofoam packaging that comes with televisions and other nonfood items.
While the council typically votes on an ordinance two weeks after the public hearing, councilors voted 6-2, with Brayman and Councilor David Watson opposed, to vote immediately after Monday’s hearing, Brayman said.
The ordinance will be enforced by the town’s code enforcement officer beginning Oct. 1.