The mayor of Attleboro tables an environmental omnibus policy aimed at reducing the use of plastic and other pollutants in the city.
The “Environmental Protection and Prevention” ordinance would prohibit the sale of eight different products: disposable polystyrene food containers; plastic food containers; plastic straws; single use plastic water bottles; plastic shot bottles (commonly called tongs); plastic microbeads like those found in some face and body cleansers; compact fluorescent bulbs containing mercury; and neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide considered hazardous to bees that the federal EPA proposed ban earlier this year. The order would also ban the intentional release of balloons and the deposit of leftover balloons in public spaces.
“We need to take better care of our environment,” said Mayor Paul Héroux. “Styrofoam and plastic… the production of these products uses petrochemicals, petroleum. It is bad for the environment upstream of production. But disposal is also not good for the environment, because often these things are thrown away, littered with garbage. “
“We see that everywhere they fill landfills, and there are sustainable environmental alternatives,” he added.
According to the proposal, the bans would come into effect on January 1, 2021, with the exception of the Single-Use Plastic Straw Regulation, which would come into effect immediately. Each restriction would be enforced by the city, with retailers who violate the bans facing variable fines.
If passed, Heroux’s proposal would be the state’s first local ordinance to tackle pollution flows on this scale with one policy. Each of the pollutants named in the proposal has been banned individually in other communities in Massachusetts – Chelsea banned “pinching” in 2018, and Somerville has eliminated both plastic straws and polystyrene containers, but none have banned so many polluting materials at once.
Heroux said it was part of the strategy.
“I took as many of these things as I could and put them all together into a sort of full omnibus ordinance proposal,” he said, “so these things will all go through the constitution… this which aids digestion for my city council. those things and say ‘okay, you know if it’s been done elsewhere, maybe we can try it here too.’ ”
Heroux said any specific ban that does not go through the city council’s review process will be referred back to council in a new proposal at a later date.
Attleboro is not new to banning the retail sale of a product to fight pollution. In 2019 the city banned single use plastic bags, and since February 2020, Attleboro is one of the 139 cities in Massachusetts to adopt this ban, according to the Sierra Club. A statewide ban has languished in the state legislature, and many mass communities temporarily revoked their bans when the coronavirus pandemic erupted over concerns over reusable bags.
Massachusetts State Representative Lori Ehrlich, who introduced a bill to reduce plastic bag pollution last year, said the comprehensive bill in Attleboro would be an important step toward removing pollutants that can harm not only the environment, but also marine life in the state.
“Eliminating plastic bags is a good first step… However, according to the World Economic Forum, by 2050 there should be more plastics of all kinds in the ocean by weight than fish, so we need to do more, ”Ehrlich said. . “I applaud the efforts and vision of the mayor of Attleboro.
Héroux will file his ordinance with city council on Tuesday. It will then be entrusted to a committee for examination, before being submitted to public debate.