Hadley town officials eye ban on single-use plastic bags


Staff Writer
Monday, January 17, 2022

HADLEY — A prohibition on single-use plastic bags at stores, already in place in several area communities, could be considered by Hadley residents this spring.

At the request of the Climate Change Committee, the Select Board recently approved a process in which board member Jane Nevinsmith will work with the committee to explore options and then draft a bylaw that could be brought to annual Town Meeting in May.

Committee member Bruce Brewer told the Select Board that 100 billion bags are used annually in the United States, and there is growing concern about how these break down and the potential contamination from microplastics.

“We feel that single-use plastics bags is a major problem that is challenging our environment,” Brewer said.

Similar bans have been enacted locally, including in Northampton in 2015, Amherst in 2016, South Hadley in 2017 and Easthampton in 2020. They are among 140 cities and towns across the country to adopt such ordinances and bylaws, Brewer said.

In addition to plastic bags, the committee is looking at ways to cut down on the use of styrofoam (polystyrene) and plastic straws, Brewer said.

The presence of numerous stores in the Route 9 corridor could mean a ban on single-use plastics would have a big impact. But Brewer said that some stores are already handling the matter, observing that Big Y Supermarket, which is divided between Hadley and Amherst, prohibits single-use plastic bags. The feeling is that plenty of alternatives exist, he said, and that a number of businesses have already converted to paper or some sort of recyclable product.

Meanwhile, the Climate Change Committee is in the midst of planning its second annual cleanup day, and a daylong event focused on the topic of climate change, with local experts speaking on the topic and activities. Those are tentatively set for April 16 and April 23, Chairman Jack Czajkowski said.