Read the original article by Pete Goonan here.
SPRINGFIELD — The City Council has scheduled a hearing on Monday at the Rebecca M. Johnson School to give the public another chance to weigh in on a proposal to ban single-use plastic checkout bags at local stores.
The council’s General Government subcommittee and the Sustainability and Environment subcommittee will conduct the joint meeting at 6 p.m., at the school at 55 Catharine St., in the cafeteria.
The council was considering final passage of the ban in March after multiple public meetings. However, councilors agreed to delay the vote to seek additional public input from residents and businesses as well as to provide information about the proposed ordinance and answer any questions.
The lead sponsor, Councilor Jesse Lederman, joined in agreeing to the meeting “in the spirit of community education and having the best ordinance possible.”
More than 90 communities in Massachusetts including Boston have approved some type of ban on the so-called, single-use plastic bags. Supporters say the ban helps protect the environment and reduce litter.
Under Springfield’s proposed ordinance, checkout bags provided by retail stores must be either “a recyclable paper bag, a compostable and marine-degradable plastic bag, or a reusable checkout bag.” Customers could also choose to bring their own bags.
Lederman, who is chairman of the sustainability and environment committee, said the drafted ordinance “follows best practices established in other communities,” and incorporates input from the community.
It will build on efforts to reduce the amount of single use plastic "going into the waste stream and littering our streets and waterways,” Lederman said.
“As more and more communities step up it is important for us to do our part as the third largest city in Massachusetts," Lederman said. "As we approach a final vote, we want to be sure the public is well informed on the ordinance and hear any final feedback and recommendations from residents and the business community.”
Under the ordinance, retailers would be required to stop the distribution of most single-use plastic bags at the register, councilors said.
All bags distributed by stores will be sold to customers for no less than 5 cents, under the ordinance.
Plastic bags used to wrap meat, produce, or similar products, bags used to contain loose items within the store, newspaper bags, and pharmacy bags are exempt from the ordinance, and exempt from the fee, the ordinance states.
The ordinance would go into effect 12 months after final passage for large retailers and 18 months after implementation for stores under 10,000 square feet.
The ordinance does not regulate private ownership of plastic bags, trash bags, or pet waste bags, councilors said.
“Many cities and entire states have taken this step because of the clear data that shows the negative impact of this product on the environment around us,” said Councilor Melvin Edwards, chairman of the General Government committee. “As Springfield moves in that direction we want to incorporate as much community input as possible.”