Council to See Draft of Haverhill’s Proposed Plastic Ban Ordinance Within Weeks

(File photograph)

Haverhill's City Council will get a look at language relating to a potential plastic bag ban within the next two weeks. (File photograph)

An ordinance relating to a potential plastic bag ban in Haverhill is taking shape after the City Council’s Administration and Finance subcommittee offered their feedback during a Tuesday night session.

The draft ordinance comes five months after the subcommittee first discussed a ban on the plastic bags provided to shoppers across the city.

As preliminarily outlined, retail establishments must provide recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to customers in place of paper. Stores that sell bags must do so for no less than $0.05 per bag, with all money collected retained by the store, City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. said.

Should a ban pass, Cox said retailers would have between six and nine months to comply with the terms, overseen and enforced by the city’s Department of Inspectional Services. As an example, supermarkets like Market Basket would fall into the six-month category, while smaller retail locations like CVS would have more time comply.

Cox was quick to confirm that a ban doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue for the city.

“The goal is to get compliance, not to be a revenue source,” the attorney said Tuesday, adding that fines for noncompliance range from $100-$300 per offense.

At the request of Mayor James J. Fiorentini, Haverhill will provide one reusable bag to each senior citizen resident within 60 days of the ordinance’s passage.

Voting to send their draft ordinance to the full City Council for review within two weeks, the subcommittee requested that Cox outline a policy pertaining to the Merrimack Street Farmers Market, which would be exempt from such a ban given their size and seasonal nature. Councilor Melinda E. Barrett suggested the adoption of biodegradable corn-based plastic bags, which are inexpensive and more eco-friendly.

Chairperson Colin F. LePage was pleased with the progress made at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’m happy that we’re moving along. There’s a good amount of folks who want to go forward, but I think people are fearful about what it is,” LePage told WHAV.

The ordinance is expected to make it onto the Council agenda within two weeks.