Businesses in Brattleboro can no longer give out certain kinds of single-use plastic bags. And so far, according to Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell, no residents have reported any violations of the ordinance that took effect July 1.
Elwell said a referendum that led to the ordinance passed with broad community support last year.
"We know there's a lot of folks in the community who have been really looking forward to the implementation of this ordinance and are probably keeping an eye on things out there, so we expect that we'll hear if there are folks who are still using plastic bags," Elwell said. "And we're almost a week in, and we have not heard of any instances of that."
Violators of Brattleboro's new rule will initially receive a warning. After a third violation, a business faces a $50 fine. Elwell said three businesses in town received a 6-month delay in implementing the ban.
Elwell said a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags could work — if the state follows his town's process as a model. He said it was crucial to give businesses several months to prepare for the change.
"I think if you do it in an orderly and a thoughtful manner like that — you know, whether it's other municipalities adopting it locally or whether it's the legislature adopting it ... as a statewide ban — I think that our experience shows that it can be [a] pretty smooth transition for everybody involved," Elwell said.
A bill to ban "single-use carryout" bags was introduced in the state Legislature in 2017, but it did not make it out of committee.