NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - A grassroots initiative to ban the use of plastic bags could make its way into city hall for consideration.
The non-profit group Green Northampton is behind a push that would ban businesses from using Styrofoam take-out containers and plastic bags.
It's an initiative Serio's Market owner Gary Goulec started four years ago when he stopped using single use plastic bags and Styrofoam take-out containers. Goulec says he went from paying a penny for plastic to shelling out anywhere from a dime to $.13 cents per pager bag.
His meat trays are still Styrofoam and much of his produce selection is in plastic, all realities he says are hard to get away from.
"Certain stuff that you buy shipped, that maybe won't be local is already packaged in plastic. So grapes come in plastic, celery comes in plastic, carrots come already bagged in plastic," said Goulec inside his State Street market Wednesday afternoon.
Goulec says he believes in the plan but not in a drastic ban that would limit plastic in produce and Styrofoam in shipping; a move that would increase operating costs and hurt his bottom line.
For many, plastic bags are part of everyday life. But when the EPA estimates only five percent of plastic bags are recycled, some say the impact far outweighs the benefits of its use.
And even though it's not the cheaper option some businesses, like the Grub on Pleasant Street, have already made the switch. They use wax-cardboard take out containers, paper bags and forks that are made out of corn instead of plastic.
"It's generally not cheaper to use the non-plastic, non Styrofoam. But what do you want to pay for? You want to pay a little more for the recyclable and the reusable materials or do you want to pay cheaper for something that's going to sit in a landfill for 15 years," said Palmer who works the front-end of the shop.
The city's waste management supervisor, Karen Bouquillon, told 22News the initiative is still in its very early stages. And her office will most likely not consider this ban until September, when the Department of Public Works appoints a new zero-waste committee.
So far, no guidelines have been set regarding the impact of this measure as Green Northampton continues to line up support from both city councilors and the public.
But Bouquillon says her office has already started researching the models of zero-waste communities located in San Francisco, Seattle and Wisconsin.