NORTH ADAMS — More than 60 Massachusetts cities and towns have banned the use of single-use plastic bags.
Could North Adams be the next to hop on the burgeoning bag ban bandwagon?
City Councilor Eric Buddington wants to discuss a plastic bag and polystyrene ban proposal in North Adams and introduced the issue to the council this week.
The council referred Buddington's communication — which was not a formal proposal, but rather an outline of the topic — to the council's General Government Committee for further review.
`This has actually been informally on my list, and I think other people's lists, for more than a year now," Buddington said.
Buddington said he was prompted to bring the issue forward by a letter from a resident who regularly cleans up plastic litter on West Shaft Road.
Cities as large as Boston and Cambridge have adopted local measures to reduce the use of plastic bags, which groups like the Sierra Club argue are harmful to the environment and taxing on municipalities' rubbish disposal budgets.
Business groups, such as the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, have routinely voiced opposition to the local bans.
As the city takes up the issue, state legislators continue to debate the matter. A plastic bag ban bill is currently making its way through the state House of Representatives. If passed into law, it would likely make the city's efforts moot.
The neighboring communities of Williamstown and Adams have already enacted similar measures to the one that will be discussed in North Adams, as have Lee, Lenox, Dalton, Great Barrington and Stockbridge.
"There's measures already in place that we can kind of mimic as well," noted Councilor Rebbecca Cohen.
Major retailers in the city that would be impacted by a single-use plastic bag ban would likely include Walmart, Big Y and Stop & Shop.
Resident Bryan Sapienza was concerned about the economic burden it could place on residents.
"I think [plastic bags] are terrible. I think we should go back to paper, but the problem is we have a couple of big-box stores in the city. It would probably end up costing us more in the long run through our groceries, through our general merchandise purchases, things like that."
The General Government Committee has yet to announce the date of its next meeting, but the matter is expected to return to the full council April 24.
Adam Shanks can be reached at email@example.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.