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Ordinance Banning Plastic Bags to Go to RTM on July 1

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An ordinance banning distribution of plastic bags by local retailers moved a step closer to reality today with a vote by the Ordinance Committee of the Representative Town Meeting. Four committee members present voted unanimously that the ordinance is ready to be presented to the RTM for a “first reading” at its July 1 meeting. Since all proposed ordinances must hold over a meeting, a vote on the proposal will not come until August or September. Known as the Retail Checkout Bag Ordinance, its purpose “is to improve the environment in Westport by encouraging the use of reusable checkout bags and banning the use of plastic bags for retail checkout of purchased goods.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

7 thoughts on “Ordinance Banning Plastic Bags to Go to RTM on July 1

  1. And just how is this ordinance going to “improve the environment in Westport” ?  Last time I checked there wasn’t a landfill in town unless one is hiding someplace, and even if there was one, doesn’t a paper bag take up more space?  What about the environment, we’re now encouraging the cutting down of more trees!!!!  These members need to find a hobby, instead of just wasting our tax money on these silly ideas!  Seriously….

  2. One of the committee members needed to leave early (before the vote), and the other person at the table is Assistant Town Attorney Gail Kelly.  At the end of the meeting, the four committee members present voted unanimously that the ordinance is ready for RTM review.

  3. Whoa. whoa-whoa-whoa

    Are you kidding? I totally support this initiative, however to encourage an improved environment in Westport shouldn’t start at the plastic bags from retailers.

    That is just silly.
    So, what, now. Local places like gas stations and deli’s and such must change the way they do business? Its not just Westporters who shop at these locations, …this may cause less-then-better business for these locations.

    You want to improve the environment? Maybe we should ban excessive use of SUV’s unless used for UTILITY purposes. Maybe we should have heftier/more fines for littering (we have the dollars and police force to do it. this is Westport.) How about better enforcement of recycling, these retailers could certainly improve their practice. Did I mention encouraging stopping the use of SUV’s? I might as well mention it again, those excessive types have a tendency to over look concern for the environment/traffic laws/ and respect in general.

    Which reminds me, how about all the waste produced by the fast food restaurants in town? Maybe we need more locations on our beaches where people can toss their trash. Lets see what else, what else is a lot bigger…

    Not to get over aggressive about the issue. But seems the RTM is picking at a much smaller issue. I have seen such a rise in these reusable bags that I believe a large percentage of people do it, many are aware, some just don’t care.

    What about YMCA issue? You want to encourage environmental protection yet you want “Make (degeneration) happen?”

    Forget it, I’m getting to heated. You are wasting your time on such a petty little issue; why not encourage the use of alternative shopping bags with a different approach, rather then a all-out-ban.

  4. I never would have thought that Westport might be on the cutting edge, but it IS possible!  Yes, I think of how would retailers give you a small item without a plastic bag, but San Francisco banned plastic bags a year ago … and Boston is now considering it.  Once I got used to carrying a cloth/recyclable bag with me, it made it very easy.

    If you want to see an amazing group of photos and quotes about why plastic bags ruin our world, check out this slideshow about the dangers of plastic bags:
    http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080506/MULTIMEDIA02/80505016

    That convinced me that Westport can step up to the plate and really make a difference.  Think how proud we will be to take some action.  I hope the RTM will vote for this on July 1st.

  5. What the RTM should do is encourage the recycling of these plastic bags.  Not the outright ban.  What’s next?  A ban on electricity use during the day?  A ban on cars or no gas sales on Tuesday?  Take a look at the following:

    Issue 1: Energy and natural resources
    It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.

    ENERGY TO PRODUCE BAG ORIGINALLY (BTUs)
    Safeway Plastic Bags: 594 BTUs
    Safeway Paper Bags: 2511 BTUs
    (Source: 1989 Plastic Recycling Directory, Society of Plastics Industry.)

    Of course, most paper comes from tree pulp, so the impact of paper bag production on forests is enormous. In 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans that year alone. Paper bag production delivers a global warming double-whammy forests (major absorbers of greenhouse gases) have to be cut down, and then the subsequent manufacturing of bags produces greenhouse gases.

    Issue 2: Pollution
    The majority of kraft paper is made by heating wood chips under pressure at high temperatures in a chemical solution. As evidenced by the unmistakable stench commonly associated with paper mills, the use of these toxic chemicals contributes to both air pollution, such as acid rain, and water pollution. Millions of gallons of these chemicals pour into our waterways each year; the toxicity of the chemicals is long-term and settles into the sediments, working its way through the food chain. Further toxicity is generated as both plastic and paper bags degrade.

    POLLUTANTS PAPER V.S. PLASTIC
    Paper sacks generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
    Source: “Comparison of the Effects on the Environment of Polyethylene and Paper Carrier Bags,” Federal Office of the Environment, August 1988

    Issue 3: Recycling
    It takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper. But recycling rates of either type of disposable bag are extremely low, with only 10 to 15% of paper bags and 1 to 3% of plastic bags being recycled, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    ENERGY TO RECYCLE PACKAGE ONCE (BTUs)
    Safeway Plastic Bags: 17 BTUs
    Safeway Paper Bags: 1444 BTUs
    Source: 1989 Plastic Recycling Directory, Society of Plastics Industry.

    Although paper bags have a higher recycling rate than plastic, each new paper grocery bag you use is made from mostly virgin pulp for better strength and elasticity.

    Issue 4: Degradability
    Current research demonstrates that paper in today’s landfills does not degrade or break down at a substantially faster rate than plastic does. In fact, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills because of the lack of water, light, oxygen and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed. A paper bags takes up more space than a plastic bag in a landfill, but because paper is recycled at a higher rate, saving space in landfills is less of an issue.

    This came from reusablebags.com

  6. I will reserve my opinion on the plastic bag ordinance, but since we’re talking about trash and environmental issues – have you all noticed that neither downtown Westport nor our parks have divided trash containers – one side for trash and one for recyclables?  I’m not sure what other municipal buildings and areas also don’t have them, but will pay more attention from now on and take note.

    Tonight I walked by a trash can on Main Street and saw a large aluminum take-out container, several plastic water and soda bottles, a newspaper and the usual garbage – all tossed into the same trash can. I think the least the town and DMA should do is encourage recycling by providing the proper trash receptacles.  That’s a very simple solution to a fundamental garbage problem – but we don’t even do that!

    Even tiny little towns across the country and Canada have divided trash receptacles for recyclables, and have for many years. I guess Westport is not so sophisticated after all. 

    I

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