The Northampton, Massachusetts, City Council voted on a plastic bag ban for the city on Thursday, January 15, 2015. This proposal was first put forward by City Council Vice President Jesse M. Adams in September of last year but underwent multiple amendments since then. The most noticeable of these was the removal of an additional foam foodservice product ban from the proposed ordinance.
The removal of the foam ban adjunction was as a result of the backlash from local business owners who pointed out that replacing the foam foodservice products with alternatives would be at a much greater cost to the businesses. Typical replacements are in the range of 200-500% of the cost of these foam products. This would be an unnecessary expense for business owners. Moreover, polystyrene foam is made up of 95% air and can be recycled.
If the proposed ban on single-use plastic bags is voted into effect, stores larger than 2,000 square feet will be required to stock either reusable or biodegradable plastic bags by the end of 2016.
Northampton was ranked the second highest community in the country for sustainability by the Journal of the American Planning Association this January. The journal considered such factors as equity, ecology, and the economy in comparing cities. City officials are paving the way for other cities across Massachusetts and North America by making their voices heard and overturning a proposed ban on foam. In this instance, the ban was rejected before it was even officially proposed, which is unfortunately not the case in other cities.