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Cambridge to draft an ordinance that would ban plastic bags

Posted by Brock Parker  January 29, 2013 10:01 AM

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Cambridge may soon move to change the way residents carry home their groceries.

The City Council Monday requested that the city draft an ordinance that will ban the use of plastic bags in the city and devise a plan for how the local law could be implemented.

City Councilor Marjorie Decker said that while efforts are underway in the state Legislature to reduce the use of plastic bags, she said by passing a ban Cambridge would put the city at the forefront of the effort.

“I look forward to us moving forward and doing this,” Decker said.

Decker had submitted an order in the fall of 2011 asking that the city review banning disposable plastic bags from retail institutions because the bags are slow to decompose and litter waterways, parks, beaches and streets.

Brookline voted in November to ban disposable polyethylene plastic bags because of concerns about the environmental impact of the bags. The law is not scheduled to kick in until December of 2013 in the town.

The order approved by the Cambridge City Council asks City Manager Robert Healy to instruct the city solicitor to prepare a draft ordinance on banning the plastic bags. The order was approved in a voice vote with little discussion Monday, and followed a December hearing by the council's Community Health Committee about a plastic bag ban.

The council is asking that the city draft clear guidelines for a ban and develop plans for education and support for small businesses at the time the ban would be phased in. The city was also asked include a provision that exclude some smaller retail stores from the ban.

The talk of banning plastic bags comes as the city is also exploring banning the sale of large sodas and sugary drinks at local food service establishments.

Once a draft ordinance to ban plastic bags in Cambridge is completed, it would still need the approval of the City Council before it would be implemented.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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