Pittsfield, Mass., Close To Banning Plastic Shopping Bags

Mar 27, 2019

Berkshire County's biggest city is close to banning plastic bags at checkout counters at most retailers. 

The Pittsfield City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on Tuesday night requiring bags to be environmentally friendly.

Pittsfield City Councilor-at-Large Melissa Mazzeo initially opposed a ban on plastic bags. She thought it would impose an economic hardship on people who walk while carrying groceries home, and who reuse the bags. But she said a new kind of bag that can be composted convinced her.

"The thickness is just a little but thicker, and a little sturdier, actually," Mazzeo said. "One is made out of corn husks. The othe one is made out of, like, sugar cane husks. That’s why they break down, because they’re kind of made out of natural products."

The council voted 6 to 5 against requiring stores to charge a fee for bags. But if stores do charge a fee, the ordinance stipulates a price of at least 5 cents per bag to motivate customers to bring their own.

The ban would be only on bags provided at checkout. It does not include plastic bags used for produce in grocery stores.

Mayor Linda Tyer still needs to sign off on the bill. If she does, the ordinance goes into effect January 1, 2020.