Bag-Ban Law Ready for Councilors

A draft ordinance that would ban plastic grocery and takeout bags in Barrington has been posted in Town Hall; it will be introduced at the Town Council meeting on Sept. 10.

The proposed ordinance to ban plastic grocery and takeout bags in Barrington has been posted in the Town Hall.

It includes fines of up to $300 per violation and describes how the ordinance would be enforced – either by the police department or an officer of the town manager.

The draft ordinance will be introduced at the Town Council meeting on Monday night, Sept. 10. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held on Oct. 1.

If approved by the Town Council, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

The draft ordinance bans plastic bags “to improve the environment in Barrington and the health, safety and welfare of its residents by encouraging the use of reusable checkout bags.”

It encourages retailers to offer for sale reusable bags. It does not suggest a price per bag.

The ordinance would be enforced by the police department or any other department or division designated by the town manager.

A potential violation would be investigated and followed up with a written notice to the owner or manager of the retail establishment.  The notice would either be served to the owner or manager in person or by posting it in a conspicuous place of the store and sending a copy to the owner or manager.

A retail store’s owner or manager would have to respond in writing within 14 days that the violation has ended.

A second violation after the 14-day response period and within one year of the response from the retailer would lead to a $150 fine. A third violation within a year of the second and any subsequent violations would lead to a $300 fine.

A retail store owner or manager could appeal the violation in writing to the town manager within 14 days of receiving the notice of violation. The town manager could waive the violation on a “showing of good cause or undue hardship.” Good cause or undue hardship are not defined.

The draft ordinance does include six other definitions: retail sales establishment, checkout bag, plastic barrier bag, double-opening plastic bags, recyclable paper bag, and reusable bag.

Scott Clark September 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
You are all correct. None of these feel like a referendum on the concept itself though. - Manifold: I agree. I don't see that the Council proved this was a big enough problem worth solving through banning. I equate this thinking with banning cellphone calls while driving. Of COURSE holding a cellphone while driving is distracting. But so are dozens of other things drivers do (shave, makeup, newspapers, computers, etc). But instead of a national referendum on the underlying issue (distracted driving caused by stressed exerb commuters on clogged infrastructure) they went with the easier target. It's a feel-good law doable in a short office term. Banning plastic bags is sorta the same way. Not ideal, but achievable, and not itself a bad idea. - Garymm: I agree. The recycling center not taking bags sounds like either something nobody realized, or tried to tackle and failed. From a level of effort standpoint, it sounded easier to ban the bags. Not ideal either, but achievable. Similar to other thought processes as you point out :) - Joel: This goes back to the details of the implementation which I agree are flawed. The strongest argument I've seen against this is that it doesn't do enough. If we agree that the concept is fine, then really it IS about the details of the implementation. I wanted to understand if that's the case, because then it's easier to focus on the specifics (ridiculously mis-scaled fees or incentification for using canvas bags, etc)
Jean C. MacCorison September 10, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Here it is Monday and I'm just catching up with these comments. I'm interested in Scott's favoring canvas bags. They have some negative aspects, too. They can be potential breeding grounds for harmful bacteria especially if left in warm cars or infrequently or never washed. YouTube has a video on the subject of food borne illnesses associated with reusable grocery bags which might be of interest. Another thing to consider: are we moving in the direction of a "nanny town" with too much government intrusion into our personal lives?
Gary Morse September 10, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Jean, E Coli 0157H7 puts a woman in a coma! That's the Youtube story I trust you are referring to found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBRAQx-b7tg Thanks for your post above.
Scott Clark September 10, 2012 at 07:31 PM
That is very true about canvas bags. This does put the onus on the consumers to actually take care of them as they would clothing (doubly so since we don't normally use our shirts to carry watermelon around :) ). But the same could be said about recycling or reusing anything. Even if they figured out why the recycling center won't take plastic bags, that doesn't automatically increase the chances people will recycle them instead of, say, using them as car garbage bags or for the litter box. There needs to be incentives in place to change behaviors. Otherwise they're just dusty old rules in some bylaw somewhere that nobody ever reads.
Jean C. MacCorison September 10, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Gary, and there is also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv631Knsj64&=youtube regarding food borne illness and fabric bags. Thanks for your reference. Jean


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