Springfield Revises Implementation Schedule for Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance


SPRINGFIELD – City Councilor Jesse Lederman, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Sustainability and Environment, in conjunction with Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, announce that the City of Springfield will delay implementation of an ordinance banning the distribution of single use plastic bags by retailers to allow retailers and the public more time to accommodate the change in light of the now lifted order suspending such bans by Governor Charlie Baker.

The ordinance was originally set to go into effect on June 1, 2020 for large retailers and December 1, 2020 for smaller retailers in an effort to reduce plastic waste, litter, and pollution, allowing Springfield to join more than 130 cities and towns that have passed such regulations. However, regulations related to an abundance of caution taken in the wake of COVID-19 suspended bag bans statewide before being rescinded by Governor Baker several weeks ago.

In line with what other cities and towns across Massachusetts are doing to re-implement the regulations, Springfield will push back the implementation date to avoid confusion. Under the new implementation schedule:

-The plastic bag ban will go into effect for all retailers on January 1, 2021. At that time retailers will need to either switch to recyclable paper bags, compostable and marine-degradable plastic bags, or reusable checkout bags as defined by the ordinance.

-Until January 1, 2021 retailers may continue to distribute single use plastic bags at their discretion and on their own terms as per previous practice.

-During this time customers are able to utilize reusable bags at their discretion, as per previous practice.

Commissioner Helen R. Caulton-Harris said “During this time of public health crisis, it is critical that we support our businesses to be successful as we mitigate this deadly virus. COVID 19 has put strained our public health system and understandably our residents. As the Commissioner of Health and Human Services in the City of Springfield I am in complete agreement with the rollback of the implementation timeframe. As we begin the mitigation process of making structural changes to combat this deadly virus, it is critical that we support our public health infrastructure. Our response must be one of a measured approach that protects the environment and at the same time considers the burden COVID-19 has placed on every facet of our society”.

City Councilor Jesse Lederman said “As a community we are committed to reducing plastic waste, litter, and pollution, but must also do so in a fair and even manner. We recognize that in the wake of the ongoing pandemic the focus of our businesses, residents, and government has understandably been elsewhere, and we are making this adjustment in line with what other communities across Massachusetts are doing to ease the transition to more sustainable practices.”

Mayor Sarno stated, “As my administration continues to work to mitigate the community spread of this COVID-19 Coronavirus, I want to thank Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and her team for their continued dedicated efforts on behalf of our residents and business community. I also want to thank Councilor Lederman and the City Council for their efforts in working together with our City team to not only help stop the spread of this virus but also for taking reasonable and sensible action for our residents and businesses by delaying the implementation of the single-use plastic bag ban until 2021.”

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