Bid To Reduce Plastic Bags Across Massachusetts Gets A Public Hearing

Apr 1, 2019

A Massachusetts legislative committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on a proposal aimed at reducing single-use plastic bags. 

Right now, more 90 Massachusetts communites have some sort of plastic bag ban. This legislation would prohibit them statewide.

"We know that they're very dangerous to the environment, and they end up escaping into the environment many times," said Kristie Pecci with the Conservation Law Foundation. "They're terrible for our existing recycling system, and they don't recycle well."

A group representing grocers says it also favors the legislation. Stores currently have to comply with individual regulations from town to town. 

Brian Houghton is with the Massachusetts Food Association.

"They'll have a store in one town, and next door, it's different standards for the type of bag they have to have, or if they can even have a plastic bag," Houghton said. 

Paper bags would still be OK, but retailers would have to charge a dime each for them.

A similar effort stalled on Beacon Hill last year. 

Despite legislators looking at a statewide solution, communities continue to ban — or talk about banning — plastic bags.

Last week, Pittsfield's city council approved outlawing them.

In Springfield, the city council is holding a hearing next week on a similar ordinance. 

Clint Richmond with the Sierra Club of Massachusetts said getting rid of plastic bags should be part of a larger movement to reduce plastic use.

"Go to your beach, or in your neighborhood, on sidewalks, or on streets, you see a lot of plastic litter," Richmond said. "There's more than plastic bags going on, but plastic bags are a great first start in this conversation."

California and Hawaii are the only other states with plastic bag bans.