Eastham Select Board Considering Plastic Container Bans

EASTHAM – A letter has been sent to all businesses in the Town of Eastham regarding two bylaw proposals the Select Board is drafting to reduce plastic waste.

If passed, the bylaws would ban the sale and distribution of certain single-use plastic items within town boundaries.

That includes straws, certain types of balloons, food containers, checkout bags, nips, plastic bottles of water and carbonated beverages that contain less than 34 ounces in volume.

“We do have the capability to order cardboard or cans as opposed to plastic water bottles,” said Town Administrator Jacqueline Beebe.

“I think we just need to make that switch, rec has made that switch and though it’s inconvenient they’re doing a great job with it.”       

In the spring, town voters approved two petition articles banning single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers.

The Select Board is are planning to craft a bylaw for town meeting in May and send it to the attorney general’s office for review.

The bylaw would be enacted in November to give businesses in the town time to adjust.

Conservation agent Shana Brogan said the town sees vast amounts of plastic on its beaches, bike paths, and roadways and that the goal of the bylaw is to reduce the amount of plastic significantly.

“I know the Oyster Fest this year had metal cups,” said Select Board Chairwoman Aimee Eckman.

“Now you had to pay for them but I thought ‘wow people are really starting to change and embrace it.’”

Some business owners in the town feel that the proposed bylaws would only hurt the local economy.  

Sarah Wilcox, co-owner of the Eastham Superette, said the proposal to ban the sale of plastic bottles and nips would be a problem as both are a big part of her business.

She claims that a ban on plastic bottles would take away from the choices customers’ have.

Co-owner of Town Center Wine & Spirits, Leslie Plumb, echoed Wilcox’s statements adding that nip sales are a significant part of her business.

Plumb stated that she thinks banning plastic bottles in a beach town does not make a lot of sense, asking the Select Board if they really want glass containers on the beaches.

Executive director of the Eastham Chamber of Commerce Jim Russo thought that the bylaws would be beneficial but also that there will be difficulties with implementing them.

Russo felt that the matter should be dealt with at the state level rather than the town level.

The Conservation Committee will hold an informational hearing on the proposed bylaws on Wednesday, January 29th at 6 p.m. at the Eastham Public Library.

About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the CapeCod.com News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.

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