Voters in Raymond will consider a proposed citizen-petitioned warrant article that seeks to prohibit the use of plastic bags by local retailers, but town officials say that if approved the town couldn’t legally enforce the ban.
The proposed ban will appear on the town ballot on March 10.
According to the warrant article, the ban would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and would apply to any Raymond retail business that sells products and bags them in plastic.
Town Manager Joe Ilsley has said the ban is only advisory and that the town can’t mandate it.
However, if the proposal passes, he said, town officials could take the “spirit and intent” of the article and work with retailers to find ways to reduce their plastic bag usage.
The local proposal comes at the same time that the state Legislature is considering a plastic bag ban.
In January, the state House of Representatives voted to ban single-use plastic bags and force retailers to charge customers a fee of 10 cents per bag — up to a maximum of 50 cents per purchase — for reusable, recyclable bags made of thicker plastic.
The measure, known as House Bill 559, also would ban the use of paper bags unless they’re made from recycled paper.
The House also passed a House Bill 102, which would allow municipalities to adopt their own ordinances on single-use plastic bags.
Following their passage in the House, the bills were sent to the Senate for review.
Supporters of a plastic bag ban have pointed to the environmental concerns with plastic bags, which don’t fully degrade, and argue that it would encourage consumers to bring their own thicker bags.
State Rep. Kathleen Hoelzel, R-Raymond, voted against the two bills.
“People don’t really want to be restricted. I think it’s an awful lot to impose on the town,” said Hoelzel, who is also a Raymond selectman.
John Dumais, president and chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Grocers Association, said he felt it was “very unfortunate” that Raymond voters were considering such an unenforceable ban.
“I think the bigger issue is, New Hampshire is such a small state and the towns are very close to each other. If one town starts to do any of these bans it forces consumers to shop elsewhere because it’s going to be more expensive,” he said.
Dumais encouraged more people to bring their plastic shopping bags to the recycle bins located in many stores to help lower costs and create less litter going into landfills.
“Our stance is retailers should be left to do their own thing,” said Nancy Kyle, president and chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Retail Association.