Ordinance prohibits retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags at checkout



SOMERVILLE – Beginning Sept. 1, single-use plastic bags will be banned at checkout points throughout the City. The ban is the result of an ordinance – passed by the Board of Aldermen in Nov. 2015 – aimed at reducing solid waste and protecting waterways and other aspects of the environment.


While customers are strongly encouraged to bring their own reusable bags with them, retailers will be able to provide either recyclable paper bags or reusable bags at checkout. There will be no charge to customers for paper bags, but many businesses will continue to sell durable, reusable bags and totes. Stores may also continue to offer customers plastic bags in produce, meat and fish, frozen food, and bulk food sections. Additionally, dry cleaning and newspapers may still be packaged in plastic bags.


Ward 7 Alderman Katjana Ballantyne, Chair of the Committee on Open Space, Environment and Energy, believes this ordinance is an important step in protecting the City’s wildlife and environment. “Plastic bags produce litter, waste, and harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” Ballantyne said. “The goal of the ordinance is to encourage businesses and shoppers alike to use more environmentally friendly options.”


“I commend the Board on taking the initiative to address concerns surrounding the harmful impact that single-use plastic bags have on our environment,” Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said. “Plastic pollution is a detriment to many, and it is crucial that we protect the City’s waterways, parks and streets to ensure that Somerville is a safe place to live now and in the future.”


The ordinance will be rolled out in two phases. Businesses with more than 10,000 square feet of floor space must comply by Sept. 1, while all other retailers have until Dec. 1 to meet compliance regulations. Retailers found to be non-compliant will receive a warning for first violations. Subsequent violations will carry a fine.


The City has two remaining drop-in information sessions to help businesses prepare for the ordinance and to answer questions. All sessions will be held in the Aldermanic Chambers located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall at 93 Highland Ave. 

· Tuesday, Sept. 13, 10-11 a.m.

· Thursday, Sept. 29, 6-7 p.m.


For more information regarding the plastic bag ordinance, visit


Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact the City’s ADA Coordinator, Betsy Allen, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.