Medfield looks to ban plastic bags

One individual brought plastic packaging to the meeting to show how ubiquitous it is in the world.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Statewide, 93 towns and cities have banned single-use plastic bags. On Sunday afternoon at the Medfield Library, the Medfield Plastic Bag Reduction Initiative discussed the various ways they hope to make Medfield the 94th.

The Initiative is technically not a non-profit because they seek to sway legislation, which a non-profit isn’t allowed to do - but its pretty clear they’re not in it to make any money.

In fact, the group is trying to make more canvas bags with the town of Medfield’s image on them to encourage less plastic bag usage, leading one woman at the meeting named Megan to declare: “If we get the money, we will make the bags.”

The Initiative is running into a few problems, surprisingly not so much from local merchants. One of the issues they are dealing with is a lack of knowledge about the bags in general, as well as the bylaw they are trying to pass. At the meeting, it was noted that the bags many people buy from Shaws for ten cents are actually worse for the environment, because they are thicker, and people tend to only use them once.

As for the bylaw, people struggle to understand what exact bags it refers to. For example, the small plastic bags you put your produce in would not be banned, but the plastic bags you put your groceries in would be. Other bags that would be banned include food takeout bags.

An example of a paper bag that would have been plastic was this dentist’s grab bag.

An example of a paper bag that would have been plastic was this dentist’s grab bag.

At the meeting, it was discussed who would be in charge of enforcing the bag ban, with the Initiative believing the Board of Health would be best entity to do so. They also noted that merchants would be given a six month grace period to make the transition.

According to those at the meeting, merchants are not the ones fighting the bylaw - residents are. Some merchants have signed on in support of the bylaw, some have already stopped using plastic bags, and some never did in the first place. These businesses are getting a special “thank you” on the informational brochure the Initiative plans to hand out. And while large national merchants are not willing to give up the plastic bags unless forced, they have not pushed back on the law because it is something they’ve dealt with in so many other communities and likely knew was coming, sooner or later.

Medfield has a strong history of recycling. At the meeting, it was acknowledged that Medfield’s recycling rate is 19 percent, which is far above the national average.

But plastic bags are unique in their inability to break down. So, while it’s great to recycle them, they’re still not going anywhere.

A proposal is made to have plastic collected once a week by a traveling truck.

A proposal is made to have plastic collected once a week by a traveling truck.

Much of the push-back has come from residents who feel the loss of plastic bags is an annoying burden with which they don’t feel like dealing.

Whatever the reason, while it seems very likely the bylaw will ultimately pass, the Medfield Plastic Bag Initiative will continue educating people on the issues of plastic usage and what it does to the environment.

While they’re hopeful and confident they’ll get the bylaw to pass, it’s not exactly in the bag.

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