By Andrew Strecker, Contributing Reporter
Westborough – Westborough’s Board of Health (BOH) adopted a regulation to reduce polystyrene use, thereby protecting the environment and public health, immediately following a public hearing held on Jan. 21.
The hearing, held at Town Hall to discuss the proposal and hear comments from the community, saw no input from residents or businesses and was passed unanimously by the BOH.
Polystyrene, a form of plastic often misidentified as Styrofoam, is commonly seen in coffee cups and other prepared-food delivery applications. According to the BOH, it is not biodegradable and is a permanent litter. Its microplastics contaminate water bodies and pose significant hazards to the ecosystem.
The new regulation, which takes effect July 1, 2020, prohibits single-use disposable polystyrene products for serving or transporting prepared read-to-consume food or beverages, including take-out foods and uneaten food from restaurant meals.
The Westborough BOH is responsible for enforcing the regulation, and it is the responsibility of food establishments to ensure compliance. Penalties for violations will range from written warnings for first violations to a $100 fine for third and all subsequent offenses.
Director of Public Health Steven Baccari said the town will send a letter to food establishments, and the July date of effect is intended to allow businesses to draw down current stocks of polystyrene containers. If compliance within the effective date is not feasible, the BOH may grant a waiver up to six months.