Avon stalls on Styrofoam suppression, sets sights on September | VailDaily.com
John LaConte
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Avon stalls on Styrofoam suppression, sets sights on September

Expanded polystyrene foam is used to make plates, coffee cups and food containers, among other things. The Avon Town Council discussed a town ordinance to ban these materials on Tuesday, and will take up the issue again in September.

AVON — Elected officials expressed some support to put a townwide Styrofoam ban to council vote later this month, but not enough to move forward on it. As a result, Avon Town Council members and staff will take more time with outreach and education throughout the next two months and revisit the ban in September.

A few uncomfortable moments peppered the discussion at Tuesday's regular meeting of the Town Council, as audience members questioned one another in their support or opposition of the issue.

Avon resident Michael Cacioppo said the issue was about freedom and said the community was not asking the council to take it up.

Community member Maria DeSimone said she did ask the council to take up the Steryofoam ban and asked Cacioppo what freedoms he was referring to in his defense of the status quo.

Cacioppo said an "anti-freedom agenda" starts with plastic bags and moves on and said that he has taken up legal fights on behalf of the local environment.

"Sweetie, I filed a $600 million lawsuit to clean up the river," Cacioppo said to DeSimone while DeSimone was speaking from the podium.

Later speaking from the podium himself, Cacioppo said he "wouldn't put it past a liberal to put a Styrofoam container in the river," in reference to an anecdote shared earlier about Styrofoam disintegrating in local waterways, and then asked for more time at the podium to share his thoughts.

The request was not granted. Mayor Jennie Fancher told Cacioppo he was not being respectful and would not receive more time to respond.

COUNCIL'S THOUGHTS

For its part, the council did not express unanimous support for Styrofoam or a Styrofoam ban.

Council members Sarah Smith Hymes and Matt Gennett were the staunchest proponents of the ban, saying they would be ready to vote in favor of outlawing Styrofoam at the council's next meeting.

Fancher and council member Amy Phillips said they want more feedback from the business community.

"It would be nice, from my perspective, to speak with every business and get a 'yes' or a 'no' from them," Fancher said.

Council member Megan Burch said while she supports the intent of the ban, she would rather see an incentive approach than a punitive approach. Council member Jake Wolf said in talking to local restaurateurs, it occurred to him that a co-op type system could help businesses buy the materials they need at a lower cost.

"The prohibiter is that the switch is costing too much," Wolf said. "There's got to be a point where, whatever it is that will replace (Styrofoam) … there's a break at a certain amount of these things that you buy. And everybody in our town uses them."

'DID YOU TELL STARBUCKS?'

Without offering an opinion on the ban, Vail Honeywagon representative Shawn Bruckman gave the council a lesson in materials, explaining the difference between polystyrene and expanded polystyrene and pointing out that Smith Hymes was drinking from a non-recyclable coffee cup during the meeting.

"A lot of the hotels and resorts use disposable coffee cups, that's something that's lined with polystyrene and is not recyclable," Bruckman said.

"Did you tell Starbucks about that?" Smith Hymes asked. "They must know that, it's unbelievable."

The council concluded by agreeing to add some of Bruckman's suggestions on coffee cups into the ordinance, conducting more outreach on the issue and looking into spurring along Wolf's co-op idea. A new first reading of the ordinance has been set for the Sept. 12 Avon Town Council meeting.