NEW BEDFORD — Two years ago, New Bedford city councilors approved a plastic bag ban for many city businesses — but it has yet to be implemented.

Following similar bans in cities and towns statewide, including in neighboring Dartmouth, New Bedford's rule would have prevented any business with over 10,000 square feet of total retail space from giving out single-use plastic bags.

The ordinance was meant to take effect six months after Mayor Jon Mitchell signed it in January 2020, with time allowed for local businesses to phase out their plastic stocks.

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But as anyone who has been to Market Basket lately knows, plastic bags are very much still in use — yet some city stores, like Trucchi's, are already using paper instead.

According to mayor's office spokesperson Michael Lawrence, there is no specific date for implementing the bag ban, which was delayed in part due to COVID-19.

During the first surge of the pandemic in early 2020, the state briefly prohibited reusable bags and allowed stores in municipalities with plastic bag bans to use the single-use bags as a safety measure.

But since then, with everything else going on, New Bedford's ban seems to have fallen by the wayside.

"Affected businesses should be preparing for this transition," Lawrence noted.

"But with everything that businesses are going through at this time...implementation of the plastic bag ban has been pushed back to later this year, potentially in the spring."

He cited the omicron surge and widespread staffing shortages — as well as sanitation and safety concerns during the pandemic — for the delay.

Mitchell officially approved the ban on January 16, 2020.

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