Bridgewater passes plastic bag ban

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The Bridgewater Town Council voted 7-1 Tuesday night in favor of a plastic bag ban, with Councilor William Wood the lone dissenter.
“Waste knows no geographic boundaries. Short-term profitability is not an excuse for long-term harm,” said Bridgewater State University Economics Professor Madhavi Venkatesan, who presented the Council with a petition signed by about 700 BSU students supporting the ban.
The vote nearly did not take place Tuesday – after having already been postponed two weeks ago when Wood invoked a “charter objection,” a procedure that delays a vote until the next meeting.
Tuesday night, Wood proposed an amendment that failed by the narrowest of margins, in a 4-4 vote. In the case of a tie, the motion does not prevail. The Council normally has nine members but is down to eight due to a vacancy.
The ban will take effect in six months.
According to the ban, the transfer station will continue to accept plastic bags for disposal and residents may still use them.
Many stores in Bridgewater, however, will no longer be allowed to give them out. The ban only applies to larger stores and chain stores, not smaller “mom and pop” owner-operated retailers.
And it only applies to thin plastic bags - the kind typically used at checkout counters in grocery stores, drugstores and many other retail outlets - not thicker, reusable plastic bags.
It also doesn’t apply to the kind of thin plastic bags used to contain dry cleaning, produce, newspapers and similar merchandise, typically without handles.
Had Wood’s amendment succeeded, the ordinance would have had to be re-advertised and the vote postponed again.
The ban as enacted does not allow stores to give out plastic bags of less than 2.5 mils in thickness (a mil is one-thousandth of an inch.)
Wood’s amendment would have instead prohibited bags of less than 1.5 mil.
A typical grocery store plastic bag is between .5 and 1.0 mil, Council President Kevin Perry said.
Wood’s amendment would also have applied the ban to all retail stores in town not just larger stores and chains.
Ernie Talpey of the Bridgewater Business Association told councilors Tuesday night the BBA would support the ban with Wood’s amendment. The BBA had previously voiced opposition to the ban.
“What I’ve brought forth is a partnership with business not a hammer,” Wood said.
But several councilors disputed Wood’s assertion the ban would be bad for business.
Councilor John Norris, who sponsored the legislation, said other communities that have passed plastic bag restrictions have not seen a negative impact on businesses.
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Originally published here.

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