Around New England

War on Plastic Bags Reaches Beacon Hill

March 26, 2019

Opponents of thin-film plastic bags used at grocery stores and drug stores are trying to ban them statewide and impose a 10-cent fee on other types of bags, too.

In recent years some individual towns and cities in Massachusetts have banned thin-film plastic bags through Town Meeting or the city council, and some have not.

The bill, H. 771, would eliminate all existing local ordinances banning plastic bags on August 1, 2019, which is the date the statewide ban would go into effect.

The bill would require a 10-cent fee for what it calls a “resuable grocery bag” (which it defines as having stitched handles and capable of carrying 25 pounds for 300 feet, and made to be used at least 175 times) or a “recycled paper bag” (which would require either 20 or 40 percent recycled materials, depending on the size).

As of the late afternoon of Tuesday, March 26, the bill has 89 sponsors in the 200-member state Legislature.

A supporter of the bill, Kirstie Pecci, senior fellow at the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston, said a lot is at stake.

“I’m going to level with you – I love all of New England. I am busting my butt every day to move towards Zero Waste through the whole region. However, I live in Massachusetts,” Pecci said in a regional update email message on Tuesday, March 26, before switching to capital letters, according to State House News Service. “IF OTHER STATES IN NEW ENGLAND PASS A BAG BAN BEFORE MASSACHUSETTS, I AM GOING TO BE VERY DISPLEASED.”

A hearing on the bill before the state Legislature’s  Join Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 in Room A-2 in the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

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