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City Council General Government Committee Meeting

May 22, 2018
Meetings & Notices

The General Government Committee of the North Adams City Council
will meet on Tuesday, May 22 at 6:30pm
in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Agenda:

1) Approval of minutes.

2) Design of consumer survey regarding a ban on some plastic bags.

3) Other discussion of proposed ban on some plastic bags.


Eric Buddington, chair


Minutes
General Government Commitee, North Adams City Council
May 22, 2018 6:30 pm, City Council Chambers
Members present:
• Eric Buddington, chair
• Rebbecca Cohen
• Paul Hopkins
Eric Buddington chaired the meeting and took minutes.
The meeting was called to order at 6:38 pm.
MOTION to approve the minutes from the May 2 meeting by Councilor
Cohen, SECONDED by Councilor Hopkins, APPROVED unanimously.
Councilor Cohen reported results from the resident survey: There were 184
responses at the time of the meeting. The survey was announced on May
16, and publicity from the Chamber of Commerce seems to have generated
many responses.
Some responses from the survey questions:
• Respondant lives in North Adams: 156/28 (yes/no)
• Uses plastic bags at big stores: 139/45
• Uses plastic bags at small businesses: 117/65
• Bags used per month: 58%: 1-24 26%: 25-49
• Use of plastic bags: 73%: reuse, 16%: recycle, 8%: throw out
• Supports a reduction in use of plastic bags: 79%
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• Supports a ban on single-use bags: 62% support, 23% oppose, 14%
unusure
• Supports a fee on single-use bags: 36% support, 34% oppose, 7%
depends on use
• Why not use reusable bags: 70% forget to bring them, 32% reuse
single-use bags, 5% believe they’re not clean, 4% say they’re too
expensive
The following is a summary of comments from the survey:
• People will be angry about banning bags due to inconvenience
• Environmental concerns are more important than convenience
• Don’t require people to use paper bags
• The City should subsidize curbside recycling
• An Adams resident got used to carrying resusable bags. At Wal-Mart,
uses reusable bags, plus plastic for extra items.
• Meat needs to be protected by plastic (Councilor Buddington notes
that such bags are not banned in the proposal; Councilor Cohen says
that some are already degradable)
• Current plastic bags are very useful for reuse.
• Suggests charging for plastic, and credit for bring-your-own
• Concern for extra cost of bags
• Ban landfill bags as well as store plastics (Councilor Cohen agrees -
the City needs to set an example along with restrictions on business.)
• Suggests also banning styrofoam.
• A Big Y employee says that the ban in Adams is going well.
• People will be upset, then adapt
• Bring BagShare to North Adams (just started in Williamstown)
• Prefer reusable bags to reused single-use bags
• Make recycling more accessible before banning single-use bags
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• Always use reusable bags when possible, reuse occasional disposable
plastics
• Bangledesh banned plastic bags in 2004
• We need better education on recycling.
Councilor Cohen suggested that simply asking customers if they need a
plastic bag before providing one will reduce usage.
Councilor Buddington noted that some people have misunderstood the
proposal as requiring the use of paper bags.
Councilor Buddington noted that chain stores currently have to supply
different bags to comply with different municipal laws in MA. A local
ordinance provides a level playing field between local businesses, and state
legislation would levelize regulation between towns.
Councilor Cohen suggested focusing on the larger issues, as she was not
certain there is public support for this plastic bag ban.
Councilor Hopkins agreed that there does not appear to be large majority
support for the ban.
Councilor Cohen asked what further outreach we could do. She suggested
consulting the 2030 plan regarding educational outreach on the issue. She
suggested a meeting to discuss this and the state bill, and asking State
Represantative Barrett and Senator Hinds about the status if the state
legislation.
Councilor Hopkins noted that we will get more results from the ongoing
survey.
MOTION to adjourn by Councilor Cohen, SECONDED by Councilor
Hopkins, APPROVED unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 7:19 pm.
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