NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 10, 2013

Prohibiting plastic?

Survey sent out to gauge support for bag ban

A local citizens group is pushing forward with efforts to curb the use of plastic bags in Newburyport, as members recently sent out a survey to gauge the level of support for a ban or fee, while also airing a documentary on local cable.

Citizens for Sustainable Bagging, a public advocacy group is looking to curtail the amount of single-use plastic bags by either placing a per-bag fee on consumers when they use plastic bags for the products they purchase, or by instituting an all-out ban on the bags.

However, not all business owners in the city — including two of the major plastic bag users — have said they have been approached by the group nor asked their opinion on the movement.

In an effort to collect information, the Citizens for Sustainable Bagging spent time earlier in the year surveying local businesses, but admitted that not all of the retailers were able to participate.

“We went door to door throughout downtown Newburyport, over to Port Plaza and all the way down to Merrimac and High streets and the Route 1 traffic circle area,” said Citizens for Sustainable Bagging founder Janine Brunell Looker. “Not everyone was able to take the survey. We received about 102 responses and of those responses, I would have to say that there was about a 65 percent approval rate.”

One of the most popular downtown businesses and a large supplier of single-use plastic bags, Richdale’s Convenience Store, was not contacted according to the store’s owner John Magro, who says half of his customers take the plastic bags with their products.

Angie’s Food, located directly next door to Richdale’s, uses the bags for their take-out orders and was contacted by the group’s student volunteers, owner Steve Luz said.

“They did come in and asked us,” Luz said. “At the time I said, ‘I applaud your efforts, but what is the alternative?’ They said they want to charge 10 cents apiece for everything that is going out. That’s very impractical. From a small business perspective, trying to manage that and pay the fee at the end, we’re already doing everything else that we do on top of that. It almost seems that they have to do it at the manufacturing end to come up with something that is not so destructive to the environment.”

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