Yarmouth Officials Host Public Forum on Plastic Bag Ban

Carol Ewing explaining the newly adopted ban on certain plastic bags in Yarmouth

YARMOUTH – Banning thin-film plastic bags has grown into a popular trend for Massachusetts cities and towns.

The Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce partnered with the town’s Recycling and Solid Waste Advisory Committee and held a public forum on Tuesday to discuss the ban of plastic bags enacted by the town in August.

The forum, “Plastic Bag Ban: what’s Inn and What’s Out,” was held at the Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Cod on Route 28.  Chamber and Committee members held an informative discussion on which bags are allowed and encouraged those attending to purchase reusable bags.

The town enacted the ban on August 30, arguing that disposable plastic bags cause “unsightly litter on roads and beaches, serious harm to marine life, pollution that effects our tourism economy, and difficulty for recycling.”

“The reasons we came up with the bylaw were many, chiefly because of the harm that plastics provide to not just marine life, but also to human life. Plastics, particularly plastic bags, tend to get pulled up into the wind and drift out to sea, and that’s where marine animals mistake them for food and ingest them, get entangled up in them, and often die because of that,” explained Carol Ewing, Co-Chair of the Recycling and Solid Waste Committee Carol Ewing, who also sponsored the bylaw.

“The other problem with plastic is that once it gets in the water it starts to break up into smaller and smaller pieces. Those pieces get ingested by marine live fish and eventually end up in our own diets.”

The ban prohibits the disposable thin-film bags, commonly seen at grocery store check out isles to bag food, that measure less than four millimeters in thickness. The bylaw also states that raw food and bulk item bags must be compostable and be made of bioplastic materials.

Bags that are not prohibited by the ban include bags that wrap moist items, such as fish, meat and flowers, bulk item bags, dry cleaning bags, newspaper delivery bags, and bags that are sold in packages, like trash bags and food storage bags. 

Other Co-Chair of the Recycling and Solid Waste Committee Jill Talladay provided tips for businesses in the town to transition out of using the bags.

“There’s some things as a business that you can do. The first thing is to simply just not provide a bag. So often times a customer will come into a store and buy one small item that they could easily stick in their pocket, or I know I’ve seen people walk out of a store often and they take the item that they just purchased out of the bag, throw out the bag and get into their cars,” Talladay said.

“So, just not providing them to begin with will help eliminate and balance out any additional costs or that might be needed to replace it with a bigger or thicker plastic bag.”

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center 

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