CITIZEN VOICES® Let towns ban plastic?

Feb 01, 2019

This year, your representatives will consider legislation allowing New Hampshire towns to ban disposable plastics. These include plastic shopping bags, straws, drink lids, and various other single-use plastic products that are often distributed to consumers. 

How do plastic bans work?

Several major cities across America have adopted single-use plastic bans in recent years, including Boston, MA. Customers at grocery stores and restaurants receive their purchased goods in paper bags or compostable plastic bags. Usually, customers have the option to bring their own reusable bags instead. 
Boston’s ordinance allows businesses to apply for a temporary exemption if making this switch immediately would prove an unreasonable hardship. Boston has also made exceptions to the ordinance; plastic dry-cleaning bags and newspaper bags will still be allowed, for example. 

Several bills to consider

There are multiple bills up for debate related to municipal plastic bans. These include HB 102 and HB 559. Rep. Judith Spang has also proposed a statewide restriction on plastic straws that would prohibit restaurants from giving them out unless customers specifically requested them. 

Why can’t towns ban single-use plastic already?

New Hampshire is not a “home rule” state. In other words, towns and cities may only pass ordinances regarding issues the state grants municipalities authority over. Under current state law, towns and cities do not have authority to ban plastic products. HB 102 and HB 559 would not automatically ban disposable plastics – it would simply give towns the ability to do so, if they chose. 

Pros and Cons

Those in favor of allowing municipalities to ban plastic say that communities should have the right to decide this issue for themselves. Many are bothered by the plastic pollution caused by these disposable products – a single plastic shopping bag that is used once can take up to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill.

Opponents say that this legislation could hurt businesses in New Hampshire that rely on inexpensive plastic bags and containers. They point out that, in many cases, the cost of such changes would likely be passed on to consumers. Lawmakers shouldn’t pass laws that make New Hampshire businesses less competitive, they say. 

Should NH grant cities and towns the power to ban single-use plastics such as straws and plastic shopping bags?


Francis Murzyn
- Merrimack

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 4:07pm

Those who approve should move to the Peoples Republic of Cambridge....they started it over a year ago. Anyone so naive as to this making a difference needs to wake up.

Chuck Malias
- Manchester

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 7:44am

Pass the law and ban the plastic bags. 100 billion plastic bags are used each year in the US. Our Legislature needs to *lead* because most citizens are too lazy to act. You can "Live Free" without systematically destroying the planet. (New Hampshire resident)

Barbara Healey
- Merrimack

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 1:31pm

Paper straws and paper bags should be available based on the merchant not an act of law. Some folks, especially disabled, need straws when out with family and friends. Please don't make them have to go out to the back alley to buy their straws from the drinking straw underground! Regarding reusable shopping bags, there have been studies conducted where the bags were cultured for bacterial growth and guess what? Yes, reusable cloth bags tested positive for eColi and other micro-organisms because no one washes their bags. Now put that same bag on the counter in the grocery store where a bagger is handling that bag and many others all day long. Now he has this all over his hands and as well as the counters where your groceries are going. Yuk. Bottom line, allow paper straws and paper grocery bags and don't charge people a fee/tax for using them. Live Free or Die!

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