Recycling The Bag Ban At CVS

In 2008, when Kim Lake served on Westport’s Green Task Force, the group prodded the RTM to ban plastic bags. The 26-5 vote made this the 1st municipality east of the Mississippi to enact such legislation.

Despite fears ranging from deforestation to the cost of potential litigation, Westporters adapted easily. We now tote reusable bags without a second thought, and find it archaic that out-of-town merchants still use plastic bags.*

So the other day Kim did a double take. Instead of a paper bag, she got this at CVS:

CVS bag 1

I got a similar bag last week. I was surprised too.

Kim — who in addition to being an alert “06880” reader, is also an attorney — fished out the old ordinance.

The CVS bag meets — even exceeds — the legal standards, she says. Any retail reusable bag must have at least 40% post-consumer recycled material. This one has “at least 80%” — according to the bag, anyway.

But read the fine print. It’s “designed for at least 125 uses.” We’re advised to clean the bag by rinsing it, then hanging it upside down to dry.

Yes, and after doing that, you and I will read the 57,000-word terms of service before clicking “agree” the next time we download a new version of iTunes!

CVS bag 2

Kim wonders how “reusable” this plastic bag really is. “It looks a lot like a disposable plastic bag that the rule was written to eradicate,” she says.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end for Westport’s plastic bag ban? Does the ordinance need revision? Or should we just bag this whole environmental thing? Click “Comments” below to weigh in.

*Except at Stew’s.

9 responses to “Recycling The Bag Ban At CVS

  1. Shirlee Gordon

    Bags similar to those at CVS are now being sold at Stop and Shop.
    They cost less money than the “traditional ” recyclable bags but are “reusable “.

  2. Ernest Lorimer

    Single stream recycling changes the calculus, surely. In 2008 you could only recycle 1, 2 and 3. I guess that is why the ordinance talks about reusable bags and recyclable paper bags. There isn’t a category for recyclable plastic bags made of recycled plastic.

    The Papier-Mettler bag is made of recycled film, can be reused, and is itself recyclable. So I think they have gone the ordinance one better. If it doesn’t meet the thickness standard of the ordinance, maybe the ordinance should be changed, since technology may have made the ordinance itself wasteful and this is certainly within the spirit and intent of the ordinance.

    And, see how they meet two of the concerns advanced about reusable bags: heavy metals and bacteria. Although I wonder why they don’t add in the dry cleaning bag warning and maybe “Hand wash only–do not dry clean” or “Cold iron only” 🙂

  3. Hedi Lieberman

    I think they are great! I am on my second use ! 123 to go! Sensible choice for CVS !


    Outlawing plastic bags in Westport was a useless victory. All Westport accomplished were headlines, if any and consumer inconvenience. This latest example of reusable and disposable plastic bags reflects the new technology. Abolish the plastic bag law.

    • Couldn’t disagree more. I never leave home without string bags in my purse, and 10 cloth/heavy duty plastic bags in my car. I would never have done it without the ban. And I see many folks just like me at TJ’s, Fresh Market and Whole Foods.

  5. An aside here, if you don’t want the plastic bags at Stews, just ask for paper. Very simple. And they are much better than the cheap paper bags used by own stores (especially Stop&Shop).

  6. The bags are reusable ( I suspect most people will not reuse their bags) but, each bag still take hundreds of years to decompose.

    • Ernie Lorimer

      If they went to a landfill, like some towns do, sure. But Westport is different. If they go into the recycle bin, they are recycled. If they go into the regular trash, they get burned in Bridgeport.

  7. CVS is not being a team player. If you don’t want to give a decent bag just use paper (ones that don’t break befor you even get to your car). Wesporters certainly give them enough business so they should play by our rules. The bags they are giving should be scrapped. Update the law!