On Jan. 1, the Mill City will join a rising number of Massachusetts communities banning single-use plastic bags, including Boston most notably in mid-December. Westford’s ban also goes into effect on Jan. 1. The Lowell City Council voted in May to approve the ordinance. The city ban is limited to retail establishments 3,000 square feet or larger.

The Market Basket at the corner of Fletcher and Broadway streets now has signs in the checkout line for 10-cent reusable “tough-durable-recyclable” bags with handles. Paper bags will also cost 10 cents per bag at Market Basket. “It’s the right thing to do,” Mayor Bill Samaras said. “It’s for the environment. The environment just can’t take plastic.”

The ban will curb litter on the streets, protect marine environment, waterways and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste, according to the city’s ordinance. Other thin-film bags will still be allowed in Lowell; these include bags used to contain dry cleaning, newspapers, produce, meat, bulk foods, wet items, perishables and other similar merchandise, typically without handles.

More than 70 cities and towns in Massachusetts are doing away with single-use plastic bags in retail stores, encouraging the use of reusable bags. City Councilor Karen Cirillo, who chairs the Environmental & Flood Issues Subcommittee, first proposed this idea for Lowell last January. City Councilor Edward Kennedy, also on the subcommittee, said the ban will be positive for the city. “We’re getting to a tipping point where most of the population in Massachusetts lives in communities that have banned plastic bags,” Kennedy said.

For more information, visit http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_32357095/plastic-bag-bans-set-go-into-effect.