CHICOPEE — After the City Council approved sending a proposed plastic bag ban to the Ordinance Subcommittee on April 2, the group discussed the matter during its meeting on May 14.

The original order was filed by President Frank Laflamme, Vice President Robert Zygarowski as well as Ward 4 City Councilor George Balakier and Ward 6 City Councilor Samuel Shumsky.

The motion would get rid of plastic check-out bags including all plastic carryout bags provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale.

If the motion does pass it will not take effect until Oct. 1 for retail establishments 50,000 square feet or greater and June 2025 for retail establishments less than 50,000 square feet.

If passed, no retail store within the city, including restaurants, convenience stores or supermarkets can provide plastic bags to customers.

Health Director Lisa Sanders commented on the proposal.

She said, “This is not my proposal, but I like it. I am not against it at all I just feel like outside of food, I don’t know how many businesses to police.”

Sanders is going to enforce the bylaw if the motion passes and said she was curious if places like Marshall’s or autobody shops would apply.

Her only suggestion was to make the effective dates the same for everyone instead of it pending on square footage and to try and make this item universal for everyone in the city when it comes to supplying plastic bags.
The committee agreed to postpone the discussion to try and figure out an exact list of what businesses to enforce if this ordinance passes.

Ward 8 City Councilor and committee member Gary Labrie said he was fine with postponing the discussion to do more research and get a better idea of what businesses would be enforced.

He added, “This might be worth postponing to see if there’s a list. This brings up a good point. It’s pretty easy to say all the business of the city but then it becomes how do you compile a list of that. That might be stuff for building and city clerk’s office and see a comprehensive list.”

Labrie also discussed a resident who said he was against this ordnance.

He said, “I understood his point. I’m about personal responsibility. I reuse plastics bags that I use at stores but obviously I understand what’s going on near Walmart that people are not considerate as me and don’t use their plastics bags again. I understood his point and feel for him but if know if everyone else was as responsible. We wouldn’t be having this issue with bags blowing all over.”

The controversy with plastic bags and litter in Chicopee has been a topic of debate at City Council meetings for years.

At the City Council meeting on April 2, Shumsky explained the reasoning to submitting the motion and that it is something he has been working on since his time with the School Committee.

“I have received dozens of phone calls, I have talked to dozens of residents and frankly I think it is just disgusting to see how much trash is littering the streets, especially bags. I don’t believe it’s fair to the residents that live near retail establishments that have to suffer due to people littering,” Shumsky said.

One of the main areas of focus is row of retail stores at the 591 Memorial Dr. Supercenter off Sheridan Street that include Walmart, Home Depot, Dollar Tree and Five Below.

Shumsky talked about this area being the main concern for plastic bags littering the neighborhood.

He said, “I happen to drive by Chicopee marketplace where Walmart, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, that whole plaza down Sheridan Street multiple times a day and the amount of trash hanging from the trees, I call them trash ornaments, and the amount of trash that residents have to deal with.”

During a follow up discussion during the City Council meeting on May 21, Ward 5 City Councilor and Ordinance Committee Chair Fred Krampits said he and the committee are looking for a little more feedback and information before approving the change.

Shumsky added that he knows this is an issue that has been going on in the city for a while and is appreciative of the Ordinance Committee for discussing it.

He added, “I feel that it’s a great addition to help clean up our city. I also want to thank Lisa Sanders. Her and I have been working together on this ordinance and there are only I think two or three things we need to change in this before the next meeting. She is working hard to get a comprehensive list also of all businesses that would be impacted by this.”