Apr 26, 2018

North Adams City Council General Government Committee

April 17, 2018
Meetings & Notices

Tuesday April 17, 2018

The General Government Committee will hold a meeting Tuesday April 17th at 5:45 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

1) Approval of minutes

2) Proposed restrictions on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers
a) discussion of survey to solicit information from businesses
b) discussion of public input from previous meeting and other communications
c) other discussion about the proposed regulations

For reasons of time, there will be little opportunity for public input during the meeting, though written comments are welcome and encouraged.

Eric Buddington, chairman

General Government Commitee, North Adams City Council
April 4, 2018 5:30 pm, City Council Chambers
Members present:
 Eric Buddington, chair
 Rebbecca Cohen
 Paul Hopkins
Eric Buddington chaired the meeting and took minutes. The meeting was
called to order at 5:30 pm.
MOTION by Councilor Hopkins to approve the minutes, seconded by
Counciler Cohen.
VOTED: unanimously, to approve the minutes.
The main agenda item was a ban on single-use plastic bags proposed by
Councilor Buddington.
Councilor Buddington introduced the topic and shared with the Committee
a rst draft of an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags used by retail
customers to carry purchases.
Councilor Cohen suggested that use of polystyrene foam containers should
also be limited. Councilor Buddington agreed.
Members of the public raised the following concerns:
 Some kinds of degradable plastics break down into small pieces of
nondegradable plastic. Do stores currently distribute this type of bag,
and would they be considered degradable? Councilor Buddington
responded that the proposed ordinance addresses this by requiring
that degradable plastic \contains no polymers derived from fossil
fuels". Councilor Cohen noted that polyethylene particles are
permanent and can move around in the environment.
 Attempts to study the e ects of plastics in people have failed to nd a
control group that did not already have a measureable level in them.
 In the past, plastic windows on envelopes were replaced with
degradable and recyclable material before falling out of use. Perhaps
similar plastics could be used to replace single-use plastic bags.
 A suggestion that the cost of paper bags should not be passed on to
the customer, but rather be borne by the business.
 Paper bags are more expensive than plastic. Stores would have to
pass on the cost to consumers. Paper bags would not hold up to rain.
Paper also has environmental costs. Paper bags often lack handles.
 Requiring a 10 cent charge for bags would encourage customers to
bring reusable bags.
 The Adams Bag Share program has made about 5,000 bags with
handles from reclaimed material, using grommets to attach handles.
The UNO Community Center also has a grommet machine.
 Senior citizens would not have trouble bringing reusable bags to the
 The District of Columbia requires a deposit on bags.
 Tesco in Malaysia provides reusable cloth bags with a printed bar
code, which are scanned at the register to give a smalll credit to the
customer for using the bag.
 In Canada, heavy milk jugs are replaced with lighter plastic bags.
 Other countries should reduce their plastic pollution as well.
 Other kinds of plastics are a problem as well, such as water bottles
and food containers.
 Councilor Harpin relayed that several restaurants are concerned
about the cost for takeout bags.
 Christina Randall of Village Pizza notes that recyclable versions of
plastic food containers are several times more expensive, and some are
not available at all.
 Are there studies showing the economic impact of single-use plastic
 A one-year transition period would ease the burden for stores.
 Councilor Harpin noted that there is state legislation in progress
which may supercede anything passed in North Adams.
 The state law may allow but not require local bans on single-use
plastic bags.
 Stores should collect bags for recycling.
 There are many other kinds of single-use plastic bags, such as product
bags and garbage bags.
 If customers are not planning to shop, they likely will not have
reusable bags with them.
 many people save \single-use" plastic bags at home for re-use.
 Reusable bags may be unsanitary if not washed.
 Schools should reduce plastic use for meals and trash bags. Councilor
Cohen agreed that we should look at reducing plastic use in schools.
 If the costs of compliance are greater than the cost of nes, businesses
might choose to just pay the ne. Can the courts uphold a ne if it's
local ordinance rather than state law?
The Committee agreed that there was not time to discuss the proposal in
detail, and that more input from local businesses was needed to determine
the burden it would place on them. Councilor Cohen agreed to develop a
survey to get better information.
No formal action was taken on the proposal.
VOTED: unanimously, to adjourn at 6:30