NORTHAMPTON/AMHERST Mass. (WGGB) —Northampton’s Waste Management Supervisor Karen Bouquillon says she constantly sees plastic bags getting caught up in trees and floating in the Connecticut River. She adds that it’s also an issue because they take hundreds of years to decompose. “I’m all about waste reduction, and the problem is, there are a lot of plastic bags that are used, i think it’s 1 1/2 million bags, 300 bags per person for a year, and we have a landfill here in Northampton, and it’s always striking to me how many bags get thrown away. It’s always a waste.”
On Monday the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee passed a bill that would ban single-use plastic bags at retail stores larger than 4,000 square feet.
It’s something that Jessica Tanner says would greatly benefit marine life. “Plastic is not biodegradable. It just becomes smaller and smaller particles of plastic which means marine animals are eating it and dying by the millions. Not only that, the phytoplankton in the oceans which actually produces half of the oxygen on this planet, at this time, the plastic actually outweighs the phytoplankton,” Tanner stated.
Whole Foods has already made the switch, and said they’ve found success since they decided to ditch plastic bags 5 years ago. “We didn’t really see the paper bags go up, we saw the reusable bags go up, and then it kind of plateaued, and that’s more successful for us because that means people are coming in and they’re reusing the same bags over and over again, which is the ultimate goal,” said Jamie Rondeau, Marketing Team Leader at Hadley’s Whole Foods.
In the meantime, Bouquillion says that people can recycle their plastic bags at any supermarket. Yet, environmentalists say that doesn’t solve the problem, since they can only be recycled once.
Sen. Marc Pacheco (D)-Taunton says the house could vote on the bill as early as next week,