Plan To Ban Plastic Water Bottles Headed Back To Sandwich Town Meeting


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Dec 28, 2023

Plan To Ban Plastic Water Bottles Headed Back To Sandwich Town Meeting

Bottled water fills half an aisle in Stop & Shop. Sustainable Practices, the

Bottled water fills half an aisle in Stop & Shop.

Sustainable Practices, the environmental group seeking to reduce—and ultimately eliminate—plastics from Cape Cod's waste stream, has filed two citizens’ petitions to be considered at Sandwich's May Town Meeting.

The first and more familiar of the petitions asks, again, that Sandwich ban sales of small, single-use plastic water bottles (anything smaller than a gallon). Those in violation of the ban would be fined $150 for the second violation and $300 for the third and subsequent violations.

The first violation would be met with a warning, according to the petition.

Sustainable Practices, which has enlisted the support of more than half of the Cape's 15 towns, has had mixed success in Sandwich.

This will be the fifth time voters have taken up the issue. After a long and passionate debate on Town Meeting floor in November 2020, voters opted to postpone the bottle ban the first time it was brought to forward. In May 2021, the ban was back before voters and prevailed. But voters at Town Meeting in November that same year rescinded the ban before it could take effect. The ban was again brought forward in May of last year, and failed to win voter approval.

Mashpee and Dennis also rescinded their "yes" votes last year.

So far, Brewster, Chatham, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich, Orleans, Provincetown and Wellfleet adopted, kept and enforced the ban.

The second citizens’ petition seeks to reduce plastics by prohibiting the use of plastic take-out food containers—and utensils—by restaurants and other food venues.

The ban would go into effect in September 2024. Like the bottle ban prohibition, the "plastic reduction bylaw" would impose fines. The first violation would result in a warning; the second violation would be a $150 fine; and third and subsequent violations would be $300 fines.

"Plastic food containers and single-use utensils form a significant portion of the solid waste stream going into landfills," the petition says. "Local landfills are running out of room; our future solid waste may have to be transported hundreds of miles to a landfill at considerable cost."

The prohibited food service items include bowls, trays, hinged or lidded containers, and utensils.

Falmouth is considering a similar ban this year. That town's select board has endorsed the plan.

Madhavi Venkatesan, the founder of Sustainable Practices, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, March 8, her organization recommends that eateries use reusable ceramic and stainless-steel plates, cups and utensils that can be cleaned and returned.

"Reuse is the only permanent fix," Ms. Venkatesan said. "With it we would slowly start to change the environment."

Asked whether the organization is concerned that Sandwich will again veto the single-use water bottle ban, Ms. Venkatesan said, "Every time we file, we win, because we’re raising the question."

She added that her group will continue to pursue its mission of enlisting every Cape town.

"We’re building the ark," she said. "Hopefully, you’ll get onboard."

Geoffrey S. Glover, the Sandwich spokesman for Sustainable Practices, said he is hopeful both measures will pass at the May 1 Sandwich Town Meeting.

"It would be a great step forward for our delicate environment," Mr. Glover said. "We are hopeful both will pass."

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