PORTSMOUTH – City councilors in Portsmouth have passed ordinances that will ban single-use plastics on city land and Styrofoam citywide.
Prior to the council’s vote during Monday night’s meeting, Carl Diemer, chair of Portsmouth’s recreation board, spoke out against the proposal, saying the bans will hurt booster clubs, programs for seniors and vendors that participate in city-sponsored activities.
“We think the ordinance missed the mark on what it intended to do,” Diemer said.
City Councilor Josh Denton, who is behind the ordinances, explained that nonprofit organizations such as Meals on Wheels would be exempt.
Councilor Rick Becksted said he could not vote in favor of the bans.
“I do not think we should pass something we cannot legally back up,” Becksted said. “I just don’t see how we can go and mandate something like this.”
Becksted stood up and left the meeting in frustration, not returning until after the votes were over.
Other councilors said it was time to move forward with the environmentally minded ban.
“I think it’s time to step up and listen to the people,” Assistant Mayor Cliff Lazenby said.
In the audience were members of Portsmouth High School’s Eco Club, with three of them dressed in hundreds of plastic bags to make their point and support the bans.
Tori Watson, who was also at the last meeting, was elated after the bans passed.
“I feel very amazing,” Watson said.
Watson said Styrofoam has already been eliminated at the high school’s cafeteria, and many booster clubs are switching over to more environmentally friendly products.
Initially, there was one ordinance that covered both single-use plastics and polystyrene, which is commonly known as Styrofoam.
They were split into two after City Councilor Chris Dwyer asked for it at the last meeting.
The ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam will take effect on Dec. 31, 2020.