On March 12, 2019 the Amesbury City Council passed a thin film, single-use plastic bag restriction ordinance in the form of Bill #2019-004. Amesbury is now one of 118 communities in Massachusetts to have passed similar plastic bag legislation.

The Ordinance requires that you cease making thin-film plastic bags available to your customers at the point of sale. You can however, make paper bags, cardboard boxes, and thicker plastic bags (whether for free, or for sale, as well as reusable bags for purchase) available to your customers. Customers may also bring their own reusable bags as an option for bagging their purchases.

The following list contains the allowed exemptions to the Ordinance:

  • newspapers and postal delivery bags
  • dry cleaning bags
  • bags in which loose produce or loose products such as baked goods are placed by a consumer to deliver such items to the point of sale or checkout area
  • bags used to contain or wrap deli counter products, frozen food, and meat or fish whether pre-packaged or not
  • take-out/left-over bags at restaurants that contain food or beverage containers that might reasonably be anticipated to seep, drip, or spill
  • checkout bags at grocery stores whose interior finished floor area is less than 15,000 square feet. This exemption does not apply to stores that sell groceries, but that also operates in conjunction with a pharmacy or gas station. For example, Vermette’s Supermarket and Cider Hill Farm are exempted, but Cumberland Farms and Walgreens are not exempted.

Amesbury’s Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance goes into effect on October 1, 2019. After that date, compliance to the ordinance is required.

An extension request of 3 months (from the October 1, 2019 date to January 1, 2020) is available to further use up your inventory of thin-film plastic bags. The compliance extension ends on January 1, 2020 regardless of when you submit the request. At that point, your compliance is needed.

In the event of non-compliance, upon initial violation a written warning is given with a 30- day grace period to reach compliance. If the violation is not corrected by the end of the grace period, a fee system begins where the first violation is $50.00, and any subsequent violations are $100.00. Enforcement details are available in Bill #2019-004.

For more information an FAQ for business owners and residents is attached and will also be made available on the City of Amesbury web-site, www.amesburyma.gov, along with the compliance extension request for, and Bill #2019-004. The City is also in the process of adding the ordinance to its https://ecode360.com/AM2893 web pages.

9 School St. – Amesbury, MA 01913
Tel. 978.388.8134 / Fax 978.388.7874
TO: Amesbury Businesses
FROM: John W. Morris, Dir. of Public Health