Somerville’s Misguided Greening

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Back in May, Somerville decided that it wanted to require large stores within its borders to provide a spot for customers to recycle their plastic shopping bags. The problem was, the city has no facilities or programs in place to actually do the recycling. Then there was a procedural delay that one alderman likened to an Abbot and Costello skit.

At long last, Somerville finally passed an ordinance that requires stores larger than 5,000 square feet to recycle plastic bags, but leaves the businesses to create their own recycling programs.

After a six-month grace period, stores will be fined up to $300 every time they throw away the bags. Somerville’s aldermen really don’t care how businesses recycle the plastic, as long as it’s getting done.

“I’m not sure logistically how it’s going to work. That’s up to ISD,” [Alderman Tom] Taylor said. “We just create the laws. We don’t implement them.”

We love the ice caps as much as anyone, but this idea seems half-baked. Not only are businesses left to find their own methods of recycling, but the ones they choose could create more problems for the environment than they solve.

John DeJesus, President of Johnnies Foodmaster, one of the stores in Somerville that already recycles plastic bags, said trash collector JRM Hauling takes the bags out to Peabody to be sent away. “They pick up the recycled bags, then they bundle them up, and ship them to a reuser in China. They recycle them into pellets for fuel, and park benches,” DeJesus said.

That’s one hell of a journey to recycle the plastic sacks. The Massachusetts Democratic Party is going to have to replace lightbulbs at a furious clip to offset that carbon footprint.

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Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2008/07/15/somervilles-misguided-greening/