Call for Plastic Bag Ban Grows Louder

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BOSTON: As “Plastic Free July” comes to a close, voices from across the state are growing louder in support of An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution, H784/S477 pending on Beacon Hill. The bills had a public hearing in June before the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, where it currently sits.

“It could be ‘Plastic-Free July’ all year round if we can get this bill over the finish line,” said Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG, an organization which has been pushing for passage of such a policy for several years. Reusable bags are ready and waiting.”

Since the push to eliminate single-use plastic bags started in the Bay State over a decade ago, 158 cities and towns have taken action on their own to reduce or ban such bags. “After years of campaigning, if nearly 70% of Bay Staters have already taken action, we should simply make this the law across the Commonwealth,” said Clint Richmond, of the Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter.

Among the many reasons to replace single-use plastic bags: they are made with petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels and there is no effective way to recycle them.  “As an organization dedicated to helping all people protect and enjoy the ocean, passing this bill is a priority,” said Alex T. Vai, campaign coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts chapter. “From supporting and leading local actions all across Massachusetts, we know getting rid of unnecessary disposables and promoting reuse is a triple win: Reducing costs for residents and leveling the playing field for businesses, all while protecting the marine environment.”

“In my community in Amherst and in communities across the commonwealth, our residents want everything possible to be done to reduce plastic pollution,” said Rep. Mindy Domb, the chief sponsor of the bill in the House. “This is not just a problem of litter. These bags are made from fossil fuels—passing this bill contributes to our efforts to respond to the climate crisis.”

Brian Houghton, the senior vice president of government affairs for the Mass Food Association, the trade association representing 500 + grocery stores in Massachusetts, is also calling for a statewide ban. In testimony submitted to the Joint Committee he wrote: “Banning single use plastic bags is an effective measure to reduce plastic in our environment.”

“Over the past four years, an incredible amount of advocacy has been done by organizations committed to eliminating plastic from retail purchases, with excellent policy work by the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, and more and more communities having passed a plastic bag ban,” said State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough). “I do believe this legislative session is the time to pass a statewide, comprehensive plastic bag ban.” Other organizations which have endorsed the bill include Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Massachusetts, Beyond Plastics, League of Women Voters/Massachusetts.

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