March 21 2019

When Does the Burlington Bag Ban Actually Start?

By: Rich Hosford

Are single-use plastic bags banned in Burlington retail locations yet?

That question has been a topic of some discussion on social media in recent days so we at BNEWS decided to call up Town Clerk Amy Warfield to get the details.

The short answer is “no” and that the bag ban will likely go into effect this September.

The reason the ban didn’t go into effect right after it was approved by Town Meeting in January is outlined in Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40, Section 32 and the language of the bag ban bylaw itself.

Warfield explained that under the state law a Town Clerk has 30 days after the close of Town Meeting to put the paperwork together to submit to the State Attorney General for review. This is done to ensure that the bylaw, either zoning or general, is legally sound and will stand up against any challenges.

“Though we have gone through the process with our legal counsel the Attorney General’s office reviews it,” she said. “Their job is to protect the towns and citizens.”

Once the Attorney General receives the paperwork from the town they have 90 days to do this review and either give the bylaw the okay or suggest changes to its wording. If the Attorney General’s office finds no problems the bylaw goes into effect.

So where does that leave us with the bag ban? It was approved in January and Warfield said that she submitted the paperwork on February 25, starting the 90 day countdown for the Attorney General. That would land on May 26, which is a Sunday, and Monday, May 27 is Memorial Day. So, unless the Attorney General is early they will likely alert the town on Tuesday, May 28 whether the bylaw is approved by the state.

If there are no issues this is when the bylaw will go into effect. Now, in the language of the bylaw itself the enforcement of the ban will start 120 days after it goes into effect. This would mean the bag ban will likely start on Wednesday, September 25.

Of course, it is possible the Attorney General will get back to the town earlier than the 90 days allowed but even if that is the case it will still be early fall before the bag ban goes into effect.


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