Plastic bag ban moving forward in Westfield

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The city will soon have a draft of a possible single-use plastic bag ban, which could impact businesses and the environment around Westfield.

The public health and safety committee, which is comprised of At Large City Councilor Dan Allie, Ward 1 City Councilor Mary Ann Babinski and Ward 6 City Councilor William Onyski, decided to go forward with the draft following a unanimous vote. The single-use plastic bag ban has been discussed in recent months by the committee and was recently pushed by three Westfield State University students as part of a senior capstone project, with the assistance of Babinski.

Babinski was tasked with drafting the proposal.

“It’s not meant to ban all plastic bags in the city, but to reduce the impact on the environment,” Babinski said.

Babinski, who has been championing this cause, has made frequent mentions over the past month of the “garbage island” in the Pacific Ocean, as well as the documentary “Bag It,” which was shown to the City Council by the Westfield State University students. The documentary illustrates the possible hazards of plastic bags on the environment and on people’s health.

Babinski said that the ban would be based off of Amherst’s by-law, though no formal legislature for the town was passed. Additionally, this potential ban would coincide with a larger, state-wide ban that was passed by Mass. State Senate. However, there are several more hurdles in the way of that ban becoming official, and the City Councilors did not acknowledge that the two bans are in any way tied together.

Babinski said that the ban would only affect single-use bags that are below 4.0 mils thick, and would leave plastic bags that are used for meat, fish or similar items, as well as dry cleaning, newspaper and bulk food item bags.

If passed, Westfield would be joining 26 other cities and towns in Mass. who have single-use plastic bag bans already in place.

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