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Somerville approves ban on foam cups, containers

Posted by Jarret Bencks  May 24, 2013 09:21 AM

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Over the objections of some restaurants and container manufacturers, officials in Somerville have approved a ban on the use of foam containers and cups at takeout food establishments.

The ban, which will go into effect in May 2014, carries up to a $300 penalty for violations. It does not include foam containers in grocery stores, such as meat packaging and egg cartons. It was approved without opposition by the Board of Aldermen on Thursday.

The proposed ban was first brought up in December, when Alderman Bob Trane called for the city solicitor to draft an ordinance, citing the environmental impact of such containers. A month earlier, Brookline approved a ban on polystyrene at Town Meeting.

Representatives of Dunkin' Donuts and Dart Container, a manufacturer and distributor of polystyrene containers, voiced opposition to the proposed ban at a public hearing held by the aldermen's Legislative Matters Committee in March, arguing that the containers can be recycled, even though many waste haulers do not recycle them.

Currently, polystyrene cups from Somerville -- along with certain other types of unrecyclable materials -- are burned at an incinerator in North Andover.

Ward 6 Alderwoman Rebekah Gewirtz, who has overseen the proposed ban as the chair the Legislative Matters Committee, said she was pleased with its outcome Thursday.

"I'm thrilled about this, I think this is very important," she said.

Nine aldermen voted in favor of the ordinance, with none objecting. Aldermen John Connolly and Tony LaFuente were absent for the vote.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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