“As far as I know, this is the toughest one in the state,” said City Councilor Emily Berlant. “Based on Zero Waste Team research, there are only five other cites (in the nation) that have ordinances at this level.”
The Talent City Council unanimously approved the measure July 17 after several public hearings and deliberations that started in April.
Retail outlets will have 90 days after Jan. 1 to phase out use of the materials before enforcement efforts begin. Councilors approved an exception for plastic drink ware and lids after their investigations showed that there are no feasible alternatives available for handling items such as hot drinks. The council will review the exception by December 2020.
The Zero Waste Team, which succeeded the Recycle Team, brought the proposal to the council. After first considering a ban a plastic straws only, the team looked at including more items at Berlant’s urging, said Sharon Anderson, team chairwoman. The team is a subcommittee of the city’s Together for Talent Committee.
Proposals in earlier ordinance versions to prohibit single-use carryout plastic bags by retailers were dropped because a statewide ban will go into effect Jan. 1. The state legislation will allow customers to request plastic straws.
The Talent City Council unanimously passed the ordinance. No one raised objections during the public hearings, although some speakers asked for clarifications, said Berlant. An initial hearing was held in April, and the council referred the measure back to city staff for more refinement.
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“We had public input in every meeting where this was on the agenda, except for July 17,” said Berlant. “I think that by that time folks that have been the advocates all along had said what they needed to say.”
Events held at city properties that require an agreement would be covered by the rules. Groups renting the Community Center or Town Hall would need to follow the ordinance, but a party at Chuck Roberts Park, which has no agreement, would not need to follow the rules.
Bioplastics are units made substantially from renewable plants that look and act like plastic. Many people don’t know what the content of bioplastic is, but its presence can disrupt the traditional recycling stream, said Berlant.
The Talent Harvest Festival banned single-use plastic food ware two years ago at the direction of the city council. The Zero Waste Team purchased silverware and glasses that vendors could use and took care of cleaning and supplying them, said Anderson.
The Zero Waste Team identified 31 businesses that would be affected by the ordinance and attempted to speak with a manager at all locations.
“We talked to managers to find out what their practices were and to tell them about the proposal,” said Anderson. “What I found was they were not opposed to it. They were concerned that it would affect their bottom lines, but they were supportive.”
Talent Café owner Denise O’Brien said she doesn’t expect much impact from the ordinance. The business already uses disposable cardboard products for takeout food. O’Brien said the cafe usually sees about a half-dozen takeout orders per day.
“I’m in agreement with the whole thing,” said O’Brien.
“At this time, we are not prepared to talk about the subject,” said Norm Lane, manager of Ray’s Food Place in Talent, after consulting with corporation headquarters. The store has an outdoor barbecue operation and a deli that provides takeout food.
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Published on ashlandtidings.com and written by Tony Boom