Published January 9, 2020

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — As of January 1, the town’s bylaw banning single-use plastic bags at retail stores took effect.

However, in response to the concerns of small businesses that were not fully prepared for its implementation, a 90-day grace period from the fines included in the bylaw has been announced by the town.

“During this grace period, establishments will be educated as to how they can comply with the bylaw, however no fines will be issued. Options for compliance are to refrain from using plastic bags at all, or to use bags certified under the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D6400 Standard for compostable plastics,” Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto said in a statement issued as the Transcript was going to press.

The bylaw was passed by the voters at the June 10, 2019 Town Meeting and the Attorney General issued the required approval for the ban on September 25, 2019, which became effective January 1, 2020.

Under the provisions of the bylaw the town’s Health Department is responsible for implementing it, including the fine structure.

“While many retailers are complying with the ban, in response to feedback from the business community and due to a desire to conduct more outreach to businesses, the Health Department will be implementing an administrative grace period through March 31, 2020,” Gilleberto’s announcement stated.

Meanwhile, consumers have options available to them to help with the transition from single-use to reusable or compostable bags.

“Some retail stores are offering reusable shopping bags for purchase. The North Reading Food Pantry is selling reusable purple shopping bags for $10. Bags are available at the Senior Center and Union Congregational Church. Friends of Flint Memorial Library are also planning to sell shopping bags for fundraising purposes. North Reading Parks and Recreation has also provided reusable bags to new homeowners through its ‘North Reading Welcomes’ program,” stated Gilleberto.

The Transcript published a story to provide a comprehensive overview of the plastic bag ban in the December 12 edition. A link to the story, which includes the complete bylaw language, can be read on the newspaper’s website via the following link: www.localheadlinenews.com/north-reading-plastic-bag-ban