Amherst plastic bag ban taking effect soon

Retailers and restaurants will have to provide more eco-friendly alternatives

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Starting in January, Amherst retail stores and restaurants will not be able to distribute single-use plastic bags to their customers.

The ban goes into effect on January 1. It was implemented after town leaders and community members expressed concerns about the effect of bags on the environment. Amherst town meeting members voted in favor of the proposal 110 to 30.

Retailers will now have to provide biodegradable, reusable, compostable, or recyclable paper bags instead. Merchants will have the option of charging fees for those items, however.

According to the World Economics Report, at least 8 million metric tons of plastic contaminate the world’s oceans each year. 22News found support for the ban among Amherst residents.

“Plastic bags are not good for the environment. They kill the wildlife and they’re trash, so for all those reasons, I support it,” Carolyn Thomas of Amherst said.

Amherst’s Board of Health will be enforcing the ban. If a retailer violates it, they will first receive a written warning, and then will be fined $100 for each offense thereafter.

Amherst is not the first local community to impose such a ban. Northampton’s plastic bag ban went into effect at the beginning of this year.