12 December 2022 Environmental Advisory Council Meeting
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) met on Monday, December 12, 2022.
In attendance and voting were Co-Chairperson Elaine McCarron, Co-Chairperson Amie Easterly, members Jan Filios, Peter Gilles. Also in attendance were Supervisors John Mack and Elen Snyder.
The following summary is based on my notes.
Background: At the August 25, 2021, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Ms. Elen Snyder - then a member of the Newtown Township EAC and a 2021 candidate for Newtown Supervisor - commented on the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. Ms. Snyder urged Newtown to follow other townships - such as the Borough of Narberth, PA - in passing regulations that encourage or require businesses to reduce the usage of plastic materials, eliminate the use of Styrofoam, promote the use of reusable bags, and replace plastics with sustainable materials. View the video of her comments...
Since then, in April 2022, the supervisors passed a resolution to voluntarily reduce the distribution of single-use plastics. At that meeting, Elaine McCarron presented data and other information about the impact of single-use plastics on the environment and the health of animals - including humans. Assisting was EAC member Carol Walsh. View the video of her comments...
The EAC now plans to develop an ordinance regulating single-use plastic by businesses.
“Ready to finally give up single use plastics?,” asked Ms. Snyder on her Facebook page. “Those who know me realize I’ve been working on this since 2019 for Newtown Township but then Covid happened and you know the story…couldn’t put any hardship on our businesses then. I’m happy to say that we start open hearings for our businesses to learn and ask questions about the plastics ordinance that’s coming our way with experts from Penn Environment and our own Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council. All businesses will be invited.”
The plan is to have several special public meetings with Newtown Township business owners and the public to review a draft single-use plastic ban ordinance. The EAC has already gotten a lot of feedback from businesses via personal communications and a survey (see below).
The EAC considered the Solebury Township’s Ordinance No. 2022-003 as a model to review. This ordinance, which passed in June 2022, prohibits the use of single-use carry -out plastic bags, single -use plastic straws, and polystyrene food containers by commercial establishments (read “Solebury Adopts Ordinance Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags, Straws, Styrofoam Containers, Etc.”).
Once the EAC has a draft ordinance to present to the public, it intends to invite Faran Savitz, Zero Waste Advocate, PennEnvironment, to give a presentation. Mr. Savitz works on PennEnvironment’s Conservation and Zero Waste programs, working to reduce plastic waste in PA.
The other major topic for discussion was consideration of a plan to use solar to supply all the electrical needs of the township buildings located at 100 Municipal Drive.
On July 14, 2022, members of the EAC and supervisors Snyder and Mack visited West Rockhill Township’s municipal solar project — the first in Pennsylvania to provide 100% of a municipality’s electricity (read “West Rockhill is the First in PA to Use Solar for 100% of Its Municipal Electricity Needs”).
The EAC intends to recommend that the Board of Supervisors get an estimate of the costs for a solar array large enough to power the township center. It was noted that PennEnvironment can supply that data at no charge to the township.
Mr. Gilles reviewed several alternatives for funding such a project. West Rockhill, for example, spent $169,000 from their general fund reserves and they expect an 11 year payback period, with all savings going back into the general fund’s reserve account.
Meanwhile, Ted Dorand, PECO External Affairs Manager for Bucks County, spoke to the Economic Development Committee in April, 2022, about, about installing solar panels in parking lots and/or other open spaces. Listen to his presentation...