The plastic bag ordinance goes into effect today, Dec. 14, and many Mission Hill businesses appear ready for the measure that bans thin plastic bags.
The ordinance, which passed the City Council unanimously in November 2017 and was signed by Mayor Martin Walsh the next month, prohibits businesses from using single-use plastic carryout bags less than 3.0 mils thick, and imposes a minimum five-cent surcharge on the thicker plastic bags and paper bags.
The measure does not include bags, whether plastic or not, in which loose produce or products are placed by a consumer to deliver items to the point of sale, laundry or dry-cleaner bags, newspaper bags, bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish.
A businesses found to be violating the ordinance will receive a warning for the first offense, a $50 fine for the second offense, and a $100 fine for the third offense.
The Gazette asked the Inspectional Services Department, which will enforce the measure, for a statement on the roll-out. ISD spokesperson Lisa Timberlake replied, “After Dec. 14, retail stores in the City of Boston will no longer be permitted to stock plastic bags. Retailers will be required to sell any bag with handles for at least 5 cents per bag. The retailer keeps the charge, which helps avoid any undue burden to our highly valued local businesses. If necessary, retailers can file for an exemption if they need more time to get rid of their existing inventory of single-use, plastic checkout bags. The exemption form and directions can be found on boston.gov/plastic-bags. Consumers will be encouraged to use reusable bags with recyclable paper or compostable bags as alternatives. For information about how to be compliant, please review our Basics of the Bag Reduction Ordinance (bit.ly/2Encqih).”
Richard Rouse, executive director of the Mission Hill Main Streets, said that most businesses in the neighborhood are aware of the plan, as officials from the City have visited the stores to let owners and managers know about it.
“There is some mild apprehension, but the roll-out will be gradual without an immediate penalty phase taking effect,” Rouse said.
He kidded, “Of course, I’m sure there will be some belly aching that accompanies any change.”
Jennifer Brogan, spokesperson for Stop and Shop, which has a location in Brigham Circle, as well as several other stores in the city, said the store is ready for the change. She said the store will be getting rid of the thin plastic bags and will be offering paper bags for five cents and plastic bags that contain the required recycled material for 10 cents. The money that the store collects for the paper bag fees will be donated to the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, according to Brogan.
She also said that the store will be offering reusable tote bags for two for a dollar and that today, Dec. 14, the store will be giving away 700 of those bags away for free.
Harry Patel of the Hillside Market said his store just received the new plastic bags with recycled material in and he was taking a wait-and-see approach to how his customers will react to the change.
The owner of Mission Hill Liquors said he doesn’t think the ordinance is a “big problem” and “hopefully, the customers will understand.”