Letter for Businesses regarding the Single Use Plastic Bag Ban starting Feb 7 2019.

Dear Property Owner,

The Haverhill City ordinance banning single use plastic bags goes into effect on 7 February 2019 for retail establishments of more than 8,000 square feet and 7 May 2019 for retail establishments of 3,000 to 8,000 square feet.  You are receiving this notice due to the size and use code of your property(ies) as defined in City tax records, as this ordinance may affect you/your tenants directly.  While the ordinance’s focus is on plastic bags, the intent is not to have shoppers switch to paper bags, but to encourage and make it easy for them to switch to reusable bags. You can begin to help your employees and customers make the shift to reusables right away.

Included in this letter is a copy of the city ordinance containing the terms and definitions of the ban, as well as a list of benefits to retailers, and some suggestions on how to implement the bag ban from retail establishments in communities that have one.  The ordinance can also be found online at www.haverhillma.gov.

Key Takeaways

The plastic bag ban does NOT apply to; laundry or dry-cleaner bags, newspaper bags, or bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not, to prevent or contain moisture.

Retail establishments affected by this bag do NOT include: bazaars or festivals operated by nonprofit or religious institutions, outdoor farmer’s markets or any retail establishment under 3,000 square feet

Bags provided to customers must be either Recyclable or Reusable as defined by the City ordinance, and businesses that sell these types of bags must mark it separately on the receipt as “checkout bag charge” (minimum of 5 cents per the City ordinance).

Per the City Ordinance businesses can apply for an extension through the Director of the Inspectional Services Department.  The extension is a one-time 6-month delay of implementing the ban, if the requirements of the new ordinance would cause undue hardship to a retail establishment.  If you believe you qualify, please find deadlines for completing an extension request below:

Retail Establishments greater than 8,000 sqft: No later than 7 January 2019

Retail Establishments greater than 3,000 sqft: No later than 7 April 2019

You can find the extension request online on the City’s website at www.haverhillma.gov, or fill it out in person at the Department of Inspectional Services, Rm 214, City Hall.  Forms received after the deadlines have passed will not be considered.

Please direct all questions to the Haverhill Health Department, 978-374-2338, or visit us at www.haverhillma.gov.

Thank you for your continued support,

 Richard MacDonald

Department of Inspectional Services Director


 Retailer Benefits:

  • When shoppers bring their own bags, it can lead to a cost savings for you because you will not have to purchase, store and distribute as many carryout bags to customers.
  • Just like shoppers you will also be helping our community reduce the environmental and resource impacts of paper and plastic carryout bag production, which benefits us all.
  • Bring your own bag programs can offer you an inexpensive way to create brand awareness and do some local advertising by offering your own reusable bag.

 Here are some tips from retailers in other communities that have also implemented plastic bag bans:


Begin to display signs in visible locations such as cashier stations and entry doors to let customers know that single use plastic bags will no longer be available as of February 7, 2019 or May 7, 2019.

 Preparing your front-line employees to help customers make the shift to reusable bags is key, both so they understand why the community supported the ban and how they can play an important role in implementation, to benefit both your company and the community.

  They can immediately begin to ask customers, Did you bring a bag you would like me to use?  Would you like to purchase a reusable bag? Do you need a bag? instead of automatically giving them out.


Here are some additional strategies others have used to encourage their customers to use reusable bags.

  • Display reminders in store parking lot/windows: “Don’t forget to grab your reusable bags?”
  • Give a reusable bag away for free if the customer makes a purchase over a set amount.
  • Have store-brand bags act as permanent coupons for 5% off all purchases.
  • Donate 5 cents to a local non-profit organization for each reusable bag used to pack customer purchases.
  • Give a discount of 5-15 cents for each reusable bag used to pack customer purchase.
  • Charge 5-15 cents each for paper bag.
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