Avon getting closer to a Styrofoam ban
New ordinance needs to be coupled with state law to become effective
AVON — Town council members are ready to give up their use of Styrofoam, and want restaurants in town to stop using the product as well.
On Nov. 19 the town passed the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit food vendors from using expanded polystyrene containers when providing prepared food to their patrons.
In order to become effective, the ordinance would need the Colorado legislature to repeal a state statute which prohibits local governments from requiring or prohibiting “the use or sale of specific types of plastic materials or products” or restricting or mandating “containers, packaging, or labeling for any consumer products.”
Avon’s ordinance would also need to pass a second reading on January 28 before it could take effect.
Currently, there’s traction among legislators to see state laws changed to allow towns to enact Styrofoam bans, Preston Neill, the deputy town manager, told the council in a memo dated Nov. 19. This fall, Town Manager Eric Heil contacted state Reps. Alex Valdez and Meg Froelich, who are the probable sponsors of a bill which would allow towns to ban Styrofoam.
“Initial indications are that our state legislators fully intend to support this effort,” Neill wrote in the memo.
Public hearing in January
The council intends to have a public hearing on the matter on Jan 28. Council members expressed strong opinions against expanded polystyrene.
“The thing about expanded polystyrene is that it is not recyclable in Eagle County, and it is not biodegradable, and it does break down into many little microscopic pieces and go into our waterways, which end up in our oceans,” said Councilwoman Jennie Fancher.
“EPS, when you heat it in the microwave and it gets into your food, it’s an absolute known carcinogen, causing cancer,” said Councilman Chico Thuon.
Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes pointed out that legislators in the state of Maine passed legislation to ban expanded polystyrene across the state.
“I think that it’s a question of taking a leadership position and showing people how it can be done,” Smith Hymes said.
Bag ban funds
In supporting Avon’s ordinance, Jake Wolf and Scott Prince of the council said they would like to see town funds from the town’s 2018 plastic bag ban — which came with a mandatory $.10 charge on disposable paper bags — used to help businesses ready for the Styrofoam ban.
The town collects a portion of those $.10 bag fees in a fund called the disposable paper bag fee fund, which is to be used for waste reduction efforts and education.
In his memo, Neill noted that staff has discussed and continues to explore the viability of using some of the revenue in the disposable paper bag fee fund to purchase a substantial amount of compostable/biodegradable food serviceware to supply to Avon food vendors to assist with the transitioning process.
“Staff is also exploring this investment because we recognize that the requirements of this proposed ordinance could potentially cause a modest hardship on some food vendors,” Neill noted.
Smith Hymes said the increased cost will amount to 11 to 35 cents per take-out container.
“I don’t think it’s going to put anybody out of business,” Thuon said.
Heil said the town is still trying to figure out exactly how many Styrofoam containers area restaurants are using currently.
Wolf said before the second reading, the language of the ordinance should be changed to state that the disposable paper bag fee funds should be used to purchase proper food serviceware for businesses that need it.
“We’re required to use (the bag ban funds) for a program just like this, we just need to figure out the mechanics of it,” Prince said.
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