Fairfield RTM meeting finds support for plastic bag ban
FAIRFIELD — No opposition was voiced to a proposed plastic bag ban in town, at least not during the public comment session of the April 29 Representative Town Meeting.
“I really do think this is so important,” Mary Hogue, a member of the Sustainable Fairfield Task Force and environmental advocate, said at the meeting. “I really hope you will support this.”
The ordinance, submitted and revised at the end of last year, would prohibit retail establishments “from providing plastic bags to customers” and from providing “paper bags that are not 100 percent recyclable.”
If approved, the ban would go into effect Feb. 1 of next year in order to let businesses adapt to the new regulation.
Two other residents expressed their support for the proposed ordinance.
“Plastic bags live quite a while, almost forever. It’s wonderful to see that Fairfield is taking the steps toward eliminating them,” David McKinnis said.
According to RTM Moderator Phil Pires, the legislative body will continue to discuss the ordinance at its May 20 and 28 meetings. The latter date will include public comment and a vote on the ordinance is also scheduled.
Only one RTM member, Kerry Berchem from District 8, commented on the agenda item, restating the essence of the ordinance.
With bipartisan support — Pamela Iacono, Republican RTM minority leader supported the measure in committee — the ordinance could pass by end of next month.
This is not the first time that Fairfield has considered a plastic bag ban.
Almost 10 years ago, Heather Dean introduced an ordinance that did not make it out of the administration committee.
The Health Department, per the ordinance, would be in charge of enforcing the new rule. A first violation would incur a written warning, a second a $150 fee and subsequent violations a fee of $250.
Health Department Director Sands Cleary has previously said that, once the ordinance goes into effect, the department would receive and respond to complaints of establishments that are not in compliance.
A decade ago, Westport was the first town east of the Mississippi River to ban single-use plastic bags. In recent months, a small but growing number of towns have become part of that group, including Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk, New Canaan and Hamden.
As of early April, 20 towns in the state were condidering plastic bag ban proposals, Fairfield among them.
While certain municipalities are passing their own bans, state legislators are also considering similar proposals.
The legislature’s Environment Committee, on March 25, approved legislation that would virtually do away with single-use plastic bags by January of next year.
State legislation, similar to Fairfield’s proposal, would mandate that stores issue 100 percent recyclable paper bags and contain 40 percent recycled material.