Amherst ban on plastic bags to take effect in the new year

Local Amherst retailers will no longer be allowed to provide plastic bags to customers at the start of the new year.

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The Amherst ban on plastic bags will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

Amherst Town Meeting members voted to adopt a ban on single-use plastic bags in May. Findings presented at the Town Meeting cited damaging impacts to wildlife and the environment as reasons for implementing a ban.

According to the World Economics report, at least 8 million metric tons of plastic contaminate the world’s oceans and an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags are used annually. Those bags pose a direct threat to both terrestrial and ocean wildlife that mistake them for food.

Local Amherst retailers will no longer be allowed to provide plastic bags to customers at the start of the new year. They can provide biodegradable, reusable, compostable, or recyclable paper bags.

Retailers can decide whether or not to impose a fee for these items.

The Town’s Board of Health is responsible for enforcing the ban. If a retail establishment is in violation of the ban, a written warning will be issued with the potential for fines subsequent violations.