Fairfield to ban the use of plastic bags?

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Fairfield to ban the use of plastic bags?

Sarah Herley

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New ordinance banning the use of plastic bags, encouraging reusable bags, could soon be put into action here in Fairfield.

Over the past several years, towns across the country have begun to prohibit the use of plastic bags in stores and in restaurants, instead promoting paper and reusable bags.

Westport banned the use of plastic bags at retail stores in 2009, and Fairfield is possibly next to join the list of towns cracking down on plastic bag usage and promoting reusable bags.

Plastic bags often end up in landfills, which then make their way into the environment. Plastic bags are then migrating into the waterways and endangering marine wildlife.

Not only is this ordinance intended to help improve the environment, but according to RTM Representative Heather Dean, the lead sponsor of the ordinance, this initiative is important because it will educate the public about the dangers that plastic bags have on the environment.

Two versions of this ordinance are being considered. In both versions, stores and possibly restaurants would require individuals to bring their own reusable bags or to use recycled paper bags. The hybrid version of the reusable bag ordinance, charges ten cents per paper bag for individuals who do not provide their own reusable bags.

This fee is meant to help reimburse the companies that would now be required to supply paper bags. Businesses would only be allowed to sell or provide bags that are either reusable or recycled paper bags.

According to Dean, the reaction from the public has been mostly positive. In a survey conducted by the Fairfield Department of Community & Economic Development and Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, roughly 61% of respondents supported the ordinance eliminating the use of plastic bags at checkout, 25% of respondents were opposed to eliminating plastic bags at checkout, and 14% of respondents were unsure of their stance.

The survey went on to note that  37% of respondents supported the hybrid version of the reusable bag ordinance, 39% of respondents opposed the ten cent paper bag fee, and 24% of respondents were unsure of their views.

If the ordinance is passed by the RTM, it would become active six months after its effective date.