Plastic Bag Ban Adopted in Stafford Township

Jul 18, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

A new way of life has just about arrived in Stafford Township. An ordinance to ban the use of single-use plastic bags by businesses in town was passed during the township council’s meeting on Tuesday. It officially will become law on Aug. 7, to allow for a 20-day hold period.

“We are all tasked with being good stewards of the environment and our town,” said Mayor John Spodofora, hours before the seven-member council approved the ordinance by a unanimous vote. “Our challenge is to do the right thing with regard to the kind of world we’re leaving behind for the next generation. And we’re falling down on the job if we’re not taking action now.”

Initially introduced in February, then two weeks ago reintroduced because of some minor changes to the ordinance, Ordinance 2018-06 means all retailers within Stafford Township borders have until Wednesday, Dec. 5 to exhaust their inventories of plastic bags. Starting Dec. 6, no retailer in town can offer plastic bags for toting items.

To clarify, the ban relates only to certain types of plastic bags: “carry-out” and single-use bags “for the purpose of transporting products or goods out of the business or store.” Once Dec. 6 arrives, retailers offering bags to consumers can provide only paper or reusable bags. Alternatively, consumers may bring with them any type of bag to carry their items.

The ban does not include plastic bags used to hold produce, meat, fish or poultry, frozen foods, fresh flowers and deli items; bags used for medical purposes; bags used by pet stores to sell and transport live fish; dry cleaner or door-hanger garment bags; plastic bags sold in packages, such as garbage can or litter box liners; or bags used to deliver food items to customers on food assistance programs.

From the outset, Spodofora has said the intent of a plastic-bag ban in Stafford is about protecting the environment – most prominently the bay, ocean and other local waterways, where plastics break down and marine life ingests micro- and nano-plastics – and lessening the risk of people eating fish contaminated with plastic residue littered with toxins.

“This is a difficult decision to make. But you have to fight for the right decision because it’s a big concern,” Spodofora said. “Somebody has to take the responsibility to make this step.

“And this hasn’t been done in a closet. We’ve put a lot into this, and we’re hoping a lot of other towns will follow our lead because that will make it easier to tackle the problems plastics pose to us and our environment.”

Now that the ban is in place, Spodofora expects some retailers may come forth to address any additional concerns they might have with it.

“We can always make amendments to an ordinance,” he said. “We’re not going to relinquish the ban, but we can make changes to it as needed. But as far as we’re concerned, this is a step in a positive direction.”

— David Biggy

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