Middlebury committee tapped to draft binding plastic-bag ban

Local News

Middlebury could become the next town in Vermont to formally ban single-use plastic bags.

The town selectboard agreed to create a five-person committee to draft language for a binding ordinance to prohibit stores from offering the bags to customers. Middlebury passed a non-binding measure on Town Meeting Day 

Selectboard member Victor Nuovo will chair the committee. The other four members will be appointed at the May 14 meeting.

“If the state is going to have a statewide ban, maybe we should look at adopting those measures first and see how that works, and if the citizens desire to go further, we can always go further,” Middlebury Selectboard chair Brian Carpenter said.

The state Senate recently passed a bill to ban plastic grocery bags inVermont, and the idea of cutting down on trash by making a change in the checkout line is gaining steam at the local level.

The Norwich Selectboard approved a plastic bag ban earlier this month that will take effect September 1. A handful of other towns, including Brattleboro, Montpelier and Wilmington have passed similar measures, while Burlington and Manchester have approved non-binding bans.

Karin Mott, marketing manager at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op, says the grocery has never offered them to its customers.

“Actually, for the past couple of years, we’ve had a staff-led initiative to try to reduce the amount of plastic and packaging that we’re using at the co-op,” she said. 

Carpenter said any ban approved by the selectboard will require a change to the town charter. 

“If we do something, it won’t be implemented prior to a statewide ban,” Carpenter said. “It’s, right now, looking at 2020.”

While Norwich will require a 10 cent charge for paper bags, Mott says she doesn’t want Middlebury to go that far.

“Our way at the co-op has always been to encourage people towards good behavior rather than punishing behaviors that aren’t necessarily what we want to see,” she said. “And I’m guessing we would probably continue to go in that direction, but I think we’ll probably cross that bridge when we come to it.”

In March 2020, New York will become the third U.S. state to ban single-use plastic bags. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the ban into law Monday, Earth Day.

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