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    ARLINGTON

    First phase of Arlington plastic bag ban starts March 1

    Arlington will begin to implement a plastic bag ban at some businesses March 1. The Plastic Bag Reduction Bylaw, which Town Meeting members passed last spring, prohibits businesses from providing disposable plastic bags at checkout. The bylaw does not apply to laundry and drycleaning bags, newspaper bags, those used for loose produce, self-service bags used for bulk items, or bags used to contain or wrap frozen goods, meat or fish, regardless of whether the items are pre-packaged. The purpose of the regulation is to decrease waste and littering, protect marine life and waterways, encourage recycling, and reduce Arlington’s carbon footprint, said Public Health Director Natasha Waden in a press release. “We understand that this will be a transition for residents,’’ said Waden, “but we are excited to raise awareness about reducing waste and promoting recycling.” The new bylaw will be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, beginning March 1, customers will notice changes at larger establishments (10,000 square feet or bigger). This includes grocery stores, pharmacies, and some retail stores. The second phase, which provides small retailers additional time to comply with the bylaw, will take effect on July 1. Instead of plastic bags, retail establishments will provide paper bags at no additional cost to customers. However, Waden said shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags.

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    Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com