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TELL US: Do You Support a Fee in Newton for Single-Use Shopping Bags?

The proposal would look to charge a fee for those bags not made up of at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled material.

Following the example of Washington, D.C., and more recently, Boulder, CO, Newton officials are considering a fee for certain single-use shopping bags. 

The docket item -- proposed by Aldermen Ted Hess-Mahan, Amy Sangiolo, Vicki Danberg, David Kalis and Deb Crossley -- would create an ordinance that charges customers a fee for single-use plastic and paper bags that are not made of at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled material.

The fee aims to reduce the amount of pollution and improper disposal of bags that can adversely affect the environment and wildlife, according to meeting minutes from the Programs & Services Committee.

Those minutes also indicate that the fee would be five or ten cents per bag, and the money raised would go toward mitigating the problems the bags cause.

The item is in the early stages of discussion and is currently sitting in the board's Programs & Services Committee. It was initially presented before that committee on Oct. 3 where aldermen agreed the public should have a chance to comment before it moves forward.

Residents and business owners of Newton will have a chance to voice their opinion during the Programs & Services Committee this Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7:45 p.m. in room 222 at Newton City Hall.

The bag fee ordinance would have to go through both the Programs & Services and Finance committees before going before the full Board of Aldermen for a final vote.

What do you think about a possible fee on single-use shopping bags? Do you support it? How would you tweak the language? How much would you charge? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

mary November 05, 2012 at 12:33 PM
This is foolish..We need plastic bags for garbage,dog poop,ice and other wet things...I re-use all of the bags I get in the stores...if I didn't get them when I madw a purchase I would just have to buy them....So I still use the same amount of plastic but I would have to buy them!!!!!!!
Jay Walter November 05, 2012 at 01:32 PM
They have been charging for plastic bags in Europe for years. It is a good idea to help offset the environmental cost of these bags. While I am sympathetic to businesses who don't need another thing to deal with, we need to create an incentive to slow the use of these bags and an additional cost for the bag is probably the only way to do it. If you want the plastic bag you buy it. This will force consumers to make the choice instead of getting bags by default.
khluvr621 November 05, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Just looked at my bags.. Stop & Shop plastic: at least 15%, Shaw's plastic: at least 25%, Trader Joe's paper: at least 40%.
marie artis levine November 05, 2012 at 02:04 PM
absolutely, we do not need excess liter, plastic bags on highways, waterways, and in landfills; let's be green, it's not that hard!
marie artis levine November 05, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I did! see above!!!!!!!
Judi November 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
This is not a good idea. Many use these bags more than once, for dogs, for shopping etc. And, if passed who is going to police this? Wasted time and energy and probably more costs than savings on this one.
Wendy Schapiro November 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I reuse my plastic grocery bags for cat litter and wet bathing suits, etc. and I use my brown paper bags to cool cookies on (now you all now my secret ;-). But I would still be willing to pay for these if it means an overall reduction in their use and an increase in the use of cloth and other reusable grocery bags. Perhaps a way to create balance would be for stores to offer the aforementioned reusable fabric bags (and the oh-so-useful insulated ones) at a reduced price for a set period of time during the transition towards paying for plastic and paper bags?
Wendy Schapiro November 05, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Make that you *know* my secret- oops!
Janet Sterman November 05, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Maybe $0.01/bag. NOT $0.05 and $0.10 per bag proposed by Ted...
Newton Townie November 05, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Great plan... I'm sure merchants in Needham, Waltham, Watertown, Brookline, Wellesley, Weston and Boston would welcome our business as a result! Im glad the City's financial problems have been solved now we can take on the "Real" issues!
Janet Sterman November 05, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I am sure you are right, Newton Townie!
Wendy Schapiro November 05, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Newton Townie, on the contrary, while I do a good deal of my grocery shopping in Needham (at Roche Bros. and Sudbury Farms, as well as Trader Joe's), I would be more likely to shop at a Newton grocery store if this ordinance were passed. While I would still need plastic and paper bags (see above), I would feel much better about using them if I felt I were paying for their use. In fact, I'd feel downright good about it if there were a way for whatever fee is charged (be it a nickle, a dime or even a penny) to go to some sort of fund or initiative to increase recycling or help the store that is getting the additional moneys become more green in some way.
Dennis Howard November 05, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Of course, no one has ever littered with a paper bag!! People who litter only search around for plastic bags to throw out. Secondly, I think a case can be made that plastic is ultimately more green. A semi full of plastic bags carries millions of more bags than the semi full of paper. Plastic has significantly lower transportation costs, an ingredient that needs to added to any environmental discussion. Paper bags also have chemicals and glues, especially in the handles. Merchants would have to use more storage space for bags possibly requiring more deliveries per period due to less storage. Paper bags cost more to manufacture and buy and would force the merchant to pass that cost along, often with a markup, to the customer.
Dennis Howard November 05, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Sorry, Kids! Always interrupting just when you get really worked up. Most all bags can be multiple use regardless of composition. Stores that offer 40% post-consumer recycle are probably charging a premium at some point and it still does not eliminate transportation costs. If we want to be serious about this issue, look unbiasedly at all the data and try to eliminate the politics. Does someone have an idea how to eliminate all the soda cans, beer cans, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, etc.?
kevin francis November 19, 2012 at 09:16 AM
Please!the absence of thoughtful,impartial research concerning this issue is just another example of an arrogant,politically correct nanny state.Any cloth replacement eventually will harbor bacteria,dirt and the grime of everyday life in the big city, unless they are cleaned periodically with detergents,bleach etc.possibly more harmful to our precious water,then,placing purchases of fruit ,vegetables, etc in harm's way.Will we then need city statutes,inspectors peeking into our'''save the earth" sacks.The hypocrisy of ''green bag" shoppers choosing which overpriced,supercilious substitute of refrigerated tap water illuminates their ''place''is only matched by "Officialdom's"inability to understand the benefits and joy embedded in the acceptance of an efficient,laissez-faire approach to the art of governance projected in the words of the framers of our Constitution. .Thank you, Kevin Francis PS.A" non-interference" example could begin by restoring the beauty of the sounds and the serenity of each day were here,undisturbed by this excessive unrelenting noise generated by machines that increase in size and redundancy each year.They arrive like a mechanized infantry battalion,unloading volkswagon size lawn machines,and the devil's tool the leaf blower undistinguishable from the noise of a 747 disperses birds,dogs and pedestrians ducking to avert the dust and debris caught in the whirlpool of this weapon,buy a rake and a broom..

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