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    Tuesday, July 16, 2024

    Groton will not enforce plastic, polystyrene reduction ordinance until Oct. 5

    Groton — Businesses struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being offered a 90-day grace period for complying with a new town law to reduce single-use plastic and polystyrene products that is slated to go into effect July 7.

    The Town Council decided last week to offer all businesses a 90-day hardship variance and push the date of enforcement of the new regulations to Oct. 5, said Town Manager John Burt.

    But the town encourages businesses that are able to implement the changes to do so on July 7.

    The new ordinance will prohibit business and food service establishments from providing plastic carryout bags and plastic stirrers, as well as plastic straws, unless a customer requests a straw. The establishments also cannot serve food in polystyrene products, including cups, bowls, plates, trays and clamshell containers. The ordinance does not apply to the City of Groton or Groton Long Point.

    A majority of Town Councilors reached a consensus on June 9 to offer a three-month grace period.

    “I think the strain on our business people right now is just tremendous, and I think this Council needs to say: ‘OK, we understand what you’re going through,’” said Councilor Lian Obrey.

    Councilor Portia Bordelon said the town should still encourage businesses that can implement the changes on July 7 to do so, but if they can’t, the grace period is available. She said some businesses might be prepared and want to start on July 7, and should be recognized for their efforts and changes they already made.

    Both the Conservation Commission and the Economic Development Commission had asked for the extension.

    Conservation Commission Chairman Larry Dunn said that when crafting the ordinance, the town had chosen the July 7 date to allow restaurants and businesses to use up their stock of materials, but they have not been able to do that due to the pandemic. He also echoed that the ordinance has not necessarily been at the top of business owners’ minds with all the other issues they have on their plate.

    Dunn said the commission wants to keep the ordinance at the top of business owners' minds, but give them extra time to work on it.

    Burt said by email that the town is suggesting businesses use up their inventory before Oct. 5 and going forward to choose suitable substitutes to meet the requirements of the new ordinance. The town also recommends businesses consider “a long-term solution of using reusable products that can be cleaned in a dishwasher.”

    “Single-use plastics pose a threat to Groton’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the health of our residents,” he said. “By prohibiting these items, Groton seeks to protect the environment and eliminate a major source of waste.”

    k.drelich@theday.com

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