Beacon Hill Plastic Bag Ban Bill Still Idling in Legislative Committee

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By Michael P. Norton

BOSTON — Adding its voice to an ongoing cause among dozens of communities, the Boston City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ban retail establishments from providing single use plastic bags to customers at checkout.

On Beacon Hill, a measure spreading such a ban statewide has idled all year in committee. The Senate has approved it in the past, but it’s one of many Senate priorities that have failed to surface in Speaker Robert DeLeo’s House.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has 15 days to sign or veto the bill. An aide said only that he’s reviewing it.

According to Councilor Michelle Wu’s office, 59 Massachusetts cities and towns have already passed similar bans.

Scores of customers walk out of supermarkets and stores each day with purchased items packaged in plastic bags, which are then recycled, thrown in the trash or cast aside as litter, or used for other purposes before being tossed away.

Plastic bag ban bills (S 424/H 2140) were filed at the start of the 2017-2018 session and haven’t moved beyond the Environment Committee, which held a hearing on the bills in October.

Boston’s proposal also requires city retailers to impose a five-cent fee on reusable, paper and compostable bags.

“More than 350 million single-use plastic bags hit the streets of Boston this year alone, most of which end up filling our landfills, littering our communities, and polluting our air when burned up in incinerators,” Kirstie Pecci, director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Zero Waste Project, said in a statement Wednesday. “This new ordinance protects the health of our neighborhoods and our environment, while at the same time easing the burden on taxpayers and saving local retailers millions. We are optimistic that Mayor Walsh will follow the lead of 59 other Massachusetts cities and towns and sign this ordinance into law.”