Plastic Bags Fee Proposed in Newton, MA

Reusable bagNewton Board of Aldermen’s committee for Programs and Services is faced with a proposal to levy charges on plastic bags given out at retail outlets across Newton,Massachusetts. A fee of 5 to 10 percent is proposed to be charged on each plastic bag; the fee would also extend to paper bags that are not recycled.

Programs and Services Committee, Newton Board of Aldermen

The board which is the legislative branch of Newton’s municipal government is comprised of eminent members such as Ted Hess-Mahan, Vicki Danberg, Deborah Crossley, Amy Sangiolo and David Kalis.

As the committee is the first to take up such a proposal, the members are taking a detailed look at the situation. The committee is yet to decide upon how the fund collected from fees, will be distributed.

Tentatively, the committee has decided to claim a part of the fund for the restoration of the Charles River. The rest of the money will be retained by the retailer. As a great deal of operations are involved in freeing the river of plastic bags and clearing the storm drains, the money collected will be a benefit to the operation.

Discouraging plastics by using wholesale reusable bags in retails outlets

One of the committee members, Hess-Mahan, said that, most people in the city are aware of the hazards caused by plastic bags to the terrestrial and marine environments; the animals are harmed when they ingest plastic bags or get entangled in them.

While the state legislature considers banning the use of plastics all over the state,Newton city plans to discourage their usage by imposing charges. The fee would prompt the residents to carry their own reusable totes. In case they forget to, people can buy one easily, because retail outlets are asked to stock wholesale reusable bags for sale.

Many Californian counties and cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles have already banned plastic bags. Hess-Mahan believes that a plastic bag fee is more feasible than a complete ban.

Certain committee members however suggest that the ban be imposed first before the fee is levied. The members are working together to arrive at a consensus. A draft of the ordinance would be submitted for review to the Law Department by November 7th, 2012.

Factors such as costs involved in clearing plastic bags would be considered. To help them decide, the committee has also invited members of the State’s Public Works and Recreation departments.


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