Haverhill Grocery Bag Ban Has Support of Activist Group; Council Votes Tuesday

(File photograph.)

The proposed checkout bag ban would exempt laundry and dry cleaner bags; newspaper wraps; and frozen foods, meat or fish bags. (File photograph.)

Haverhill city councilors may take final steps Tuesday to ban plastic shopping bags after six months of debate.

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

One group supporting the ban is Greater Haverhill Indivisible. Its leaders have asked residents to send letters and emails in support of the ban,

“This measure will place Haverhill among the 80 Massachusetts cities and towns that regulate single-use plastic shopping bags as reported by the Sierra Club in July 2018,” a suggested letter reads.

Contrary to a draft ordinance, the group opposes allowing biodegradable plastic bags to be substituted.

“The addition of ‘biodegradable plastic bags’ raises major concerns due to chemicals added to these bags. They don’t break down in cold temperatures such as in the ocean,” Greater Haverhill Indivisible said, quoting the Sierra Club. “We should especially avoid ‘oxodegradable’ plastics that are polyethylene with an unnamed chemical additive.” Group leaders said most communities do not allow them because “paper is such an easy substitute.”

If passed, the city would provide one reusable bag free to each senior resident. Stores would also be allowed to sell recyclable paper or reusable bags for no less than five cents each.

A draft ordinance makes certain plastic bags will continue to be allowed. Laundry and dry cleaner bags; newspaper wraps; and frozen foods, meat or fish bags would be exempted from the ban.

Stores would be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for any second offense and $300 for all subsequent offenses within a week’s period. City inspectors will be granted authority to exempt certain stores if a “hardship” is identified. The law would be phased in over a nine-month period depending on the size of the store.