Comments at Portland City Council meeting
My name is Sarah Lakeman. I am the Sustainable Maine Policy Advocate and Outreach Coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine and a Portland resident. I appreciate the opportunity to present comments in support of a citywide ban on the use of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) in single-use disposable products used in food service and restaurants.
As noted by the Majority Report, ordinances such as the one before you have been adopted in more than 100 cities across the country—including cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. If an ordinance like this can work a city with close to a million people, like San Jose, California, then it can work here in Portland, with a population closer to 70,000.
These other places with polystyrene bans have demonstrated that affordable, environmentally preferable, and locally recyclable alternatives are readily available. But one need look no further than Freeport to reach this same conclusion, because Freeport was ahead of the pack in adopting an expanded polystyrene ban nearly 25 years ago.
We are encouraged that many restaurants, including here in Portland, have begun to voluntarily move away from polystyrene foam packaging. McDonalds Corporation, for example, recently announced that it would phase out foam cups at its 14,000 U.S. restaurants in favor of paper cups. McDonalds quit using expanded polystyrene clamshell containers back in 1990. Paper cups are available in many places such as Dunkin Donuts if customers request them.
We support the delayed implementation of the ordinance until July 2015 to allow food service establishments to use up their remaining EPS stock and purchase alternatives. We also would support the approach used in South San Francisco, where affected businesses are allowed to charge a small take-out fee to cover any additional costs for alternative containers.
If an expanded polystyrene foam container ban makes sense for more than 100 cities across the country, then we think it makes sense for Portland. We encourage you to recommend that the full Portland City Council consider this proposed ordinance for adoption.
I appreciate the opportunity to comment and would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.