Stockbridge bans plastic bags, polystyrene

New rules go into effect on Jan. 2

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STOCKBRIDGE — Thin film plastic bags and disposable foam containers are soon to be passé in this Rockwellian town.

The town's Board of Health on Thursday adopted regulations that would eliminate the bags at the check-out counter and prohibit restaurants, cafes and other eateries from using polystyrene products for take-out food. The plastic bag/foam bans take effect Jan. 2.

Stockbridge joins Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Williamstown and Adams with similar prohibitions, with Pittsfield planning to follow suit on plastics bags. The city has already enacted a polystyrene ban.

In all, 54 cities and towns in the state have plastic bag prohibitions; dozens more forbid foam containers.

"This is a very important issue, but this is just the beginning," said board member Charles Kenny, following a sparsely attend public hearing to review the regulations.

While tougher regulations are in the future, for now the onus is on shop and restaurant owners to obey the regulations.

"People can bring their own plastic bags, it's the stores that can't make them available at the checkout counter," said Tri-Town Health Department Director James Wilusz.

The department, which serves Stockbridge, Lee and Lenox, is charged with enforcing the regulations.

Violations of the bylaw will bring a warning for the first violation, a $50 fine for the second, $100 for third and @200 for subsequent violations, Wilusz said.

Details of the plastic bag ban:

• Produce, dry cleaning, newspaper or pet waste bags are exempt.

• Reusable bags must be hand or machine washable and made of natural fibers such as linen or cotton; or durable, nontoxic plastic that is at least 4 millimeters thick.

• Consumers can use any bag of their choosing; the regulations only apply to retailers.

Details of the foam container ban:

• Bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, lids and hinged containers designed for one-time use are included.

• Nothing prohibits customers from using the above-mentioned plastic goods.

• The regulations cover the full- or part-time, temporary or sporadic sale of prepared food by public, private, commercial and nonprofit entities.

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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