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January 29, 2014

Impact of bag ban? Thin in Manchester

MANCHESTER — The use of the plastic shopping bag was formally wrapped up when the town’s ban went into effect at the start of the month, and now, weeks later, some say the difference is as thin as the film the bags are made of.

Meanwhile, the Marblehead Board of Health voted last week to bring a similar ban to Marblehead Town Meeting in May. The board cited waste reduction efforts and impacts on the environment as a reason for proposing the ban.

The management of Crosby’s Marketplace is opposing the bid for a bag ban in Marblehead, as it did when Manchester’s ban went before voters, saying the company has made efforts to reduce the use of both paper and plastic bags.

Such a ban only increases the use of paper bags, which also impact the environment, considering the loss of trees and the amount of water used to produce them, said Bob Vello, general manager of the chain which has stores in both towns. Paper bags are more expensive at 10 cents each, he said. Plastic ones are 3 cents.

Manchester Selectman Paul Barclay said there haven’t been any problems since the ban went into effect Jan. 1. However, selectmen did extend the ban’s effective date to January — it had been scheduled to take effect last July — because several small-business owners were unaware the ban would apply them, he said.

“It has been seamless,” he said. “I haven’t received a single complaint, and here we are in the third week of January.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Crosby’s is selling more reusable bags,” said Barclay, who said he often shops at Crosby’s, which was the largest retailer affected in town. “Maybe it is good for everybody.”

Crosby’s donates 5 cents to a charity every time customers bring their own reusable bags, Vello said. At the Manchester Crosby’s, the company decided to provide only paper bags without handles to bring the cost down, Vello said.

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