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FRAMINGHAM – Upon a request from the Spicer administration, the 11-member Framingham City Council voted unanimously to delay the implementation of the City of Framingham’s plastic bag bylaw from January 1, 2021 to July 5, 2021.

On November 19, 2019, the first City Council vote to enact a bylaw “to eliminate the usage of plastic single-use checkout bags by all stores in the City of Framingham. Customers are encouraged to bring reusable checkout bags to stores.”

The December 2019 Council voted was 8-1-1. District 4 Councilor Mike Cannon voted no. Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll abstained and District 9 Councilor Edgardo Torres was out sick.

Order was signed by Mayor Yvonne Spicer on Dec. 30, 2019.

The 2019 vote by the City Council revised a 2018 bylaw.

The new rules that were set to start January 1 included:

❖ Revising definitions and use regulations to provide greater clarity and align language more closely with the intent of the existing 2018 Bylaw.
❖ Banning all plastic single-use checkout bags from being provided to customers at point of sale, with the exception of plastic bags, typically without handles, to contain dry cleaning, newspapers, produce, meat, bulk foods, and other similar merchandise.
❖ Requiring stores in Framingham to charge a minimum fee of $0.10 per reusable bag or recyclable paper bag, with all monies collected to be retained by the stores.

Former District 8 City Councilor Judy Grove spearheaded the bylaw and its passage.

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The Bylaw required the “Mayor to develop an education and implementation plan to inform the public and business communities on the provisions of the amended bylaw and to seek the input of the City Council regarding the same no later than March 1 (2020). The Mayor shall be responsible for implementing an education and implementation the plan to inform the public and business communities on the provisions of the amended bylaw. Thereafter, it is requested that the Mayor shall provide quarterly updates to the City Council on the rollout of the education and implementation plan.”

On Thursday, December 10, 2020, Mayor Spicer email the 11-member City Council seeking to “delay the implementation of the Plastic Bag Ordinance until July 5, 2021. The current implementation date is January 1, 2021 and was dependent on an outreach and education program that was not possible during the COVID emergency.”

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On December 1, 2020, the City Sustainability Coordinator and the City’s Recycling Coordinator submitted a memo to the Mayor proposing the 6-month delay in the plastic bag ban for the City of Framingham.

“The current start date to implement the amended Plastic Bag Reduction Bylaw is January 2021. However, we feel it necessary to push out the start date of the amended bylaw by a minimum period of 6 months, due to challenges arising from the pandemic. In addition to the general disruption to the City’s schedule to implement an effective education and outreach plan, an executive order issued by Gov. Charlie Barker in March banned reusable bags and lifted local bans on plastic bags at grocery stores and pharmacies. Though the Governor’s order was rescinded in July, these recent changes may have created confusion in the community that will further complicate the implementation of the new amendment to the Plastic Bag Reduction Bylaw. A delay in the implementation of the amendment to the Plastic Bag Reduction Bylaw will allow Framingham businesses more time to implement the associated changes,” wrote Shawn Luz & Stephen Sarnosky.

“We believe that we can adopt the method and format from the original communication that was conducted when the bylaw was first enacted in 2017,” wrote the w city employees to the Mayor.

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Utilizing this format, they proposed the following steps:

A. Meet with Inspectional Services via Zoom by January, 2021

B. Utilize business listing for communications going to affected businesses.

C. Send letter directly to the businesses that are impacted with copy of new Ordinance in February, April & June 2021.

D. Communicate amended bylaw to interested parties including Mayor’s Newsletter, City Council, Tax bills, Update City website, Public Schools, & city staff.

E. Messaging to media and community groups in January, April, & June 2021 including Framingham Downtown Renaissance Association (DFI) , Framingham MetroWest News, Framingham Source, Sustainable Framingham, Transition Framingham

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.