Bristol to consider banning plastic shopping bags

Bristol to consider banning plastic shopping bags


sweeneyIf town councilman Timothy Sweeney gets his way, clerks at stores in Bristol, such as the Stop and Shop on Metacom Avenue, will no longer ask the question: Paper or plastic? Mr. Sweeney, along with Bristol resident Ethan Tucker are leading the charge to eliminate the bags from “big box” stores and, in effect, from the waters surrounding the town.

“Everything blows down into the harbors,” Mr. Tucker said.

Once in the environment, the bags don’t decompose into an inert material, he said, adding that the chemically manufactured plastic eventually enters the food chain.

“The bags break down into pieces. When they’re microscopic, they are digested by fish and shellfish,” he said.

Environmental issues were part of Mr. Sweeney’s campaign and he hopes his efforts will help preserve Bristol’s pristine coastline and local fishing stocks. His request is to move the discussion to a workshop.

“It’s a small step forward,” he said.

Following the plastic bag ban in Barrington, Mr. Tucker said that he can see only positive benefits to enact a similar ordinance in Bristol.

“My whole goal is to make sure our facts are clear,” he said. “First is the environmental factor with Bristol being a peninsula. Second, the ban would only affect ‘big box’ stores. Most of the small businesses already don’t use plastic bags. They’re environmentally conscious.”

Mr. Tucker said that a ban on plastic bags could actually create an opportunity for local shops to sell reusable shopping bags.

“If there’s a larger demand, smaller stores can see it as an opportunity,” he said.

In Barrington, the plastic bag ban went into effect in January and has so far had no adverse reaction from residents there.

“It just takes some getting used to,” Mr. Tucker said of getting people to accept change.

Michael Ursillo, as town solicitor for both Barrington and Bristol, said he could easily adapt the language for Bristol.

The town council agreed to hold a workshop on the plastic bag issue as well as recycling in the town. No date for that workshop has been set.