, Gloucester, MA

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April 4, 2013

Plastic bags get the boot in Manchester

MANCHESTER — Voters in Manchester will no longer have to choose between “paper or plastic” after July 1.

Residents approved a ban on markets’ and other stores’ distribution of single-use plastic bags Tuesday night during a busy second and final night of Manchester’s Annual Town Meeting at Memorial Elementary School.

Article 25, which passed by acclamation and without a roll call vote, effectively bans the use of thin filmed plastic bags, commonly found at convenience stores, grocery stores and pharmacies.

Proponents of the article who spoke Tuesday night had cited the negative effect bags have on the environment, marine life and the significant amount of barrels of oil used to make the bags. Opponents noted the cost to local businesses — most notably Crosby’s supermarket — as well as the significant amount of trees used to make paper bags, one alternative to the plastic bag.

Crosby officials had previously said costs would likely go up if the ban passed and may also remove the recycling area from the Manchester store.

Officials from Crosby’s Marketplace did not return calls placed by the Times on Wednesday.

Residents on both sides of the ban were vocal Tuesday night.

Jim Starkey, a Tucks Point Road resident and former member of the town’s Harbor Advisory Committee, said he had conducted informal research and found that plastic bags were not a significant source of pollution on town beaches, though there was littering on Singing Beach.

Others disputed the exact amount of marine life that dies from plastic bag ingestion.

Thomas Kehoe, the only member of the Board of Selectmen who voted not to recommend the article, said environmental concerns were valid, but a ban on plastic bags is a step in the wrong direction.

”I agree with the proponents, but I disagree with the method that is being used,” he said.

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