Council Committee Considers Ban on Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags

(File photograph.)

Groceries in a paper bag. The City Council's Community Advisory Subcommittee will study whether Haverhill should ban single-use plastic shopping bags.

City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle wants to see single-use plastic bags banned in Haverhill.

“You know what they are. They’re the ones that are hanging in the trees around all our yards,” McGonagle said.

He pointed out that the plastic bags are used in the city’s grocery stores, all located within close proximity of the Merrimack River.

“Guess where a lot of them end up,” McGonagle said.

According to the Sierra Club, 30 percent of Massachusetts cities and towns have banned the bags, including Boston and nearby Newburyport. In the 61 communities that have banned the bags, most require stores to bag purchases in paper with recycled content if shoppers don’t bring their own, reusable bags.

Some also have eliminated the use of polyethylene produce bags, the Seirra Club reports.

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien applauded the idea.

“I love shopping in Newburyport because you get paper bags,” she said.

Daly O’Brien said her children have a name for the bags.

“My daughters call them urban tumbleweeds,” she said. “Not only do they hurt the environment, but they hurt animals, especially the wildlife.”

Council President John A. Michitson noted that he saw a report that roughly 350 million single-use plastic bags are dumped in Boston every year.

The council’s Community Advisory subcommittee will take up the issue at a future meeting.