Attempt to Delay Plastic Shopping Bag Ban Fails; Prohibition Begins This Week

Haverhill City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua. (WHAV News photograph by Jay Saulnier)

Haverhill City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua. (WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

A last-minute attempt to delay the city’s plastic shopping bag ban failed Tuesday night with City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua literally holding the bag—two of them, in fact.

Bevilacqua appealed to his colleagues to delay the ban, noting newspapers will continue to be delivered in plastic bags and the city still requires plastic bags for overflow trash collection.

The councilor said the prohibition creates a “hardship” and will drive shoppers over the border to New Hampshire.

“With respect to the reusable bag—and I mentioned this when the City Council was considering this a couple of months ago—is that the reusable bag, people tell us, it’s online, you can read it online, have to be washed after every use because of potential of salmonella disease,” he said.

Bevilacqua hoped the ban—approved last summer but going into effect this week—could be delayed until the first of spring, but his eight fellow councilors disagreed.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, who introduced the bag ban concept last year, said Bevilacqua rested his case on “inaccuracies.” McGonagle said, for example, newspaper bags used on wet days have different environmental characteristics.

Reminding residents that stores will continue to provide free bags, council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan said paper bags will be provided. For 10 cents, stores like Market Basket will also sell reusable plastic bags. He said the issue has been decided. “This issue, as presented by Councilor Bevilacqua, is disingenuous. It’s nonsense and we need to move on.”

The state’s Sierra Club reports  91 Massachusetts cities and towns regulate single-use plastic shopping bags.

Council President John A. Michitson, calling attention to the bags Bevilacqua displayed, said the failed attempt has a silver lining.

“I really enjoyed the show and tell and that you have a future on the ‘Price is Right,’” Michitson said.