Groton Conservation Commission to hold forum on the impact of plastic

Groton — The Conservation Commission is sponsoring a forum later this month to educate people about the impact of plastic and ways to reduce the use of the materials.

Commission member Kristin Distante said the forum, which be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Community Room at the Groton Senior Center, 102 Newtown Road, will address six main topics:

• The environmental impact of plastics

• Recycling vs. reuse

• The public health impact of plastic

• The economic impact of plastic

• The state's initiative and a potential local ordinance

• Alternative products to plastic

People can visit different tables to look at exhibits and talk to experts, Distante said.

The event will include representatives from Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resource Recovery Authority (SCRRRA), Mystic Aquarium and local merchants. 

Evan Wards, the Marine Sciences Department head at the University of Connecticut will speak about microplastics in the marine environment, especially related to shellfish, she said. There will also be giveaways of reusable items, including grocery bags, lunch bags, produce bags, straws and cutlery.

The Conservation Commission this winter had surveyed residents and businesses to gauge support for a townwide initiative to reduce single-use plastics. Out of 483 responses, the commission found that 72 percent of residents are "very much" or "completely" committed to plastic reduction and 63 percent of businesses are "completely committed."

With a potential local ordinance to reduce plastics in draft form, Distante said the forum will offer an opportunity for the public to weigh in on which plastics they would want to see banned or not banned in town.

"We're really seeking community enlightenment and input on the plastic issue," she said.

Town Manager John Burt said by email that the "latest draft of the ordinance is being held until the Conservation Commission can provide education on various recycling topics including the need for further action. The intent is to educate the public and solicit feedback on the Ordinance."

He said the Town Council will discuss the ordinance further after the forum and likely make changes based on feedback from the public and businesses.

"I’m pleased that the Council has excellent partners in the Conservation Commission and the Resilience and Sustainability Task Force to help Groton move forward in protecting our environment," Town Mayor Patrice Granatosky said by email. "These volunteers have done an amazing job organizing the forum and have reached out to various experts in the area to educate and answer questions from the public."

She said people will have a chance to ask questions and share their views on the topics. People who can't make the forum will be able to watch a video of it on Groton Municipal Television and on the town’s YouTube channel.

"Please encourage your friends and neighbors to come out and hear about problems with plastics and the potential to move forward in a more sustainable fashion," Granatosky added. "We love Groton and want to keep it healthy and vital for a long time to come."

k.drelich@theday.com

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