Plastic bags get the boot in Windham

WINDHAM — Windham shoppers will be forced to reduce their use of plastic later this year, as town officials have banned single- use plastic bags in local stores.

The Windham Town Council voted 9-1 Tuesday to approve the plastic bag ban ordinance and voted unanimously to approve the accompanying hearing procedure for citations ordinance.

Republican Councilor Tony Fantoli opposed the ban.

The ordinance prohibits any business from providing or selling a plastic checkout bag to consumers. Businesses may sell recyclable paper bags or reusable bags instead.

The ban was sought due to negative environmental impacts associated with plastic bags, which litter the landscape and never fully break down.

Additionally, they are difficult to recycle and often become caught in waste collection machinery.

Opponents of the ban were worried about convenience to shoppers and businesses.

At the beginning of the meeting, the ban ordinance originally included a clause that allowed businesses to sell paper bags for no more than 10 cents.

After public comment and some deliberation, councilors voted 9-1 to change “more” to “less,” so paper bags will not be liberally given away in place of plastic bags.

Asking businesses to not give away their paper bags for free also helps the businesses recoup any expenses lost from buying paper bags, which are more expensive than plastic bags. Fantoli opposed that motion and the main motion because he did not believe it was the council’s right to mandate how much businesses should sell their bags for.

“First of all, I think 10 cents is too much,” Fantoli said after the meeting. “I think the businesses should have the opportunity to set that.”

The bag ban will take effect in six months.

The council also approved the citation hearing ordinance, which includes either a warning or $150 fine for a first violation and a $250

PLASTIC BAGS, Page 4

I am so excited about this initiative. The only place we have to live is this Earth.

Nectalis Martinez

Plastic bags banned in Windham

Continued from Page 1

fine for violations thereafter.

Before the town council meeting, town residents had the opportunity to provide feedback on the ban in a public hearing.

Only a few members of the general public spoke.

Resident and former first selectman Jean de Smet spoke in favor of the ban and of the 10-cent-per-paper-bag minimum.

“What we’re trying to do with this ordinance is stop waste, and to have people switch from a plastic bag to a paper bag is not stopping waste, it’s just changing the form of the waste,” de Smet said.

Town councilors spoke about the importance of reducing waste.

“ I am so excited about this initiative,” Councilor Nectalis Martinez said. “The only place we have to live is this Earth.”

Tuesday’s public hearing was the second of its kind. Councilors held an initial public hearing in February.

Several revisions and compromises were made since the first ordinance proposal, according to councilor Dawn Niles.

The original proposal banned plastic produce, newspaper and dry-cleaning bags.

However, the council also voted to create an ad hoc committee to determine a timeline for the elimination of plastic produce bags, Styrofoam and other singleuse plastics.

That committee will report its recommendations to the town council no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

More information on the plastic bag ordinance is available under the town council’s Tuesday agenda at www.windhamct.com.

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