The ban on plastic bags officially went into place on Dec. 17, but City officials will use the holiday season to inform shop owners and supermarkets of the new ordinance – with a major effort to enforce the ordinance starting on Jan. 6.
The ordinance has been highly-anticipated for almost a year, and there have been loads of preparations conducted by the City and the business community.
However, many felt that beginning the enforcement in the heart of the holiday shopping season might not have been such a wise move. The City agreed and has come up with an alternate plan.
“In early December we were approached by a few businesses that felt starting enforcement on Dec. 17 would be tricky because it would be the peak sales time for the holidays,” said Fidel Maltez, of the DPW. “We worked internally with City Manager Tom Ambrosino and decided to do a soft enforcement in December. This past week we’ve been going around informing everyone and answering questions. It’s more of an informational roll out and actual enforcement will start on Jan. 6 when everything slows down.”
Maltez said on Jan. 6, inspectors from DPW and Inspectional Services will go out to the stores and begin enforcing the ordinance. If any business is found in non-compliance, they will have 14 days to correct the problem.
He said the biggest supplier of the plastic bags in question is Market Basket. The store, he said, believes it can make the change by then.
“We had a meeting with Market Basket’s leadership and shared the approach and they are confident they will be ready to fully roll out the ban by Jan. 6,” he said.
The bag ban was passed earlier in 2019, but was delayed until Dec. 17 for implementation. The ban was passed as a measure to help the environment with reducing the use of single-use plastics, and also to control litter in Chelsea.
“Single-use plastic is not good and is controllable and can’t be recycled or repurposed,” he said. “By eliminating single-use plastic bags, we’re hoping to lead the change from an environmental standpoint. It can also reduce litter. You travel Broadway and there are always the white and black plastic bags all over the sidewalk. Maybe with the implementation of this, we can reduce that and you won’t see these bags anymore.”
There are some exceptions to the rule.
The plastic bags used for produce and other loose articles are exempt, as are newspaper bags. A thicker, reusable plastic bag will be for sale at most all stores under the ordinance, but there is no specified price for them.