Subscribe Now


Salem’s new initiative promoting the use of reusable bags in all forms – paper, heavy plastic, canvas, and net mesh, goes into effect on Monday, January 1. Thin plastic bags (those less than four mils thick) will no longer be offered at Salem businesses, as they create significant problems for the city and the environment, clogging storm drains, getting caught in trees, and finding their way into waterways.

Spearheaded by a group of Salem High School students working with Salem Sound Coastwatch, the Salem City Council passed the plastic bag ordinance in Fall 2016. The ordinance restricts the use of single-use plastic checkout bags provided at the point of sale by retail and food establishments in Salem. Salem will join 60 other cities and towns in Massachusetts in restricting the use of these bags. Boston recently announced approval of a similar ordinance to go into effect in 2019.



The new bag ordinance is designed to encourage the use of reusable bags. Paper bags, which are reusable and compostable, will continue to be available at Salem retail outlets.

“People have gotten used to taking a plastic bag even if they don’t really need it,” states Susan Yochelson, a SalemRecycles committee member and outreach coordinator for Salem Sound Coastwatch. “Bringing a reusable bag is an easy habit once people get used to it.”

SalemRecycles started educational outreach in early 2017 to provide resources to Salem businesses and to help residents make the transition. Their efforts included the distribution of free reusable bags at SalemRecycles events around the community.

“SalemRecycles and Salem Sound Coastwatch have been wonderful partners ensuring our city is litter free and environmentally sustainable,” says Mayor Kim Driscoll. “I encourage all Salem residents and visitors to plan ahead and bring their reusable bags when shopping in our city starting January 1.”

For further information about the reusable bags initiative, please visit or contact Julie Rose at or 978-619-5679. You may also follow SalemRecycles at or on Facebook to receive updates on green initiatives in Salem.