Mansfield considering ban on plastic shopping bags

In-store plastic bags may become a thing of the past. (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Mansfield is considering a ban on in-store plastic shopping bags following the town’s research into their environmental impacts.

The Mansfield Solid Waste Advisory Board began conducting research into plastic bags’ environmental impacts last summer, according to Mansfield Recycling Coordinator Virginia Walton. That research will be presented at two presentations that are open to the public.

“There’s been more research done and there are findings about what’s happening in the oceans, so a piece of it is the detrimental effects plastic litter is having on terrestrial and ocean life,” Walton said.

The first presentation will be on April 11 at 11 a.m. in the Mansfield Senior Center, according to a Mansfield press release. The second will be on April 30 at 7 p.m. in Mansfield Library’s Buchanan Auditorium.

“(In the presentations) we’re going to talk about the proposal we’re hoping to bring to the Town Council, which is a ban on checkout bags,” Walton said. “It wouldn’t be for things like produce bags, newspaper bags, trash bags or dry cleaner bags, it’s just for checkout bags.”

Walton said the presentations will address various concerns about an in-store plastic bag ban that have been raised by the public.

“(The presentations) will really be open to comments and discussion,” Walton said. “(They) will further shape our ideas and the draft of ordinance.”

Walton said the current proposal includes exemptions for nonprofits and a window of time for businesses to use the stock of plastic bags they already have before it takes effect.

The town’s decision to consider banning plastic shopping bags stems from a resolution passed by the Mansfield Town Council in 2015 to make the town a “less wasteful community,” Walton said.

In an effort to be less wasteful, Mansfield has been providing new and gently used bags at bag-share locations in the town’s library and community center, Walton said.

“We’re going to move it to the senior center this week when we do our first presentation to the public,” Walton said. “We give out bags through human services so we are promoting it (and) we’ve been at a couple different events promoting bags throughout the year.”

Walton said the town’s interest in banning plastic check-out bags is a continuation of its effort to be less wasteful.

“The Council has been working on a food waste challenge and cutting down on the amount of wasted food,” Walton said. “The next step was to look at reducing single-use plastic waste and check-out bags have a pretty easy alternative, which is a reusable bag.”


Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.