Officials propose Town Meeting article to ban plastic bags

By Douglas McCulloch | Apr 23, 2018

Dartmouth could become the latest town in Massachusetts to outlaw plastic bags if a proposed Town Meeting article passes.

Under the proposed article, which would still need Town Meeting approval, retail, wholesale, and restaurant locations would no longer be allowed to use thin-film plastic bags to bag or deliver products in town.

The proposed bylaw sets a $200 fine for each violation. There are some exemptions, like the packaging of bulk items, meat and seafood, bakery products, flowers and potted plants, and newspapers, magazines and other periodicals not pre-wrapped by the publisher prior to sale or checkout.

According to Select Board member Stanley Mickelson, the hope is the bylaw will push more stores and consumers towards reusable shopping bags to help cut down on pollution and issues with disposing of plastic bags.

Mickelson said about 60 communities in Massachusetts have adopted plastic bag bans, some with more stringent requirements and some with lax requirements. Dartmouth’s proposed ban is along the middle ground, he said.

He added it should help big box stores, which make up the majority of plastic bag users, comply with the bylaw should it be approved. Merchants will also have a one-year grace period to comply, and only merchants with locations of at least a 5,000 square-foot building would have to follow the new bylaw.

A number of town officials and agencies worked on the bylaw, including Mickelson, the Select Board, the town attorney, representatives from UMass Dartmouth, the Buttonwood Park Zoo, and officials from the regional solid waste office.

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