Region – The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill Nov. 18 that would implement a statewide ban on all carry-out plastic bags at checkout from retail stores. The bill, S.2410, was passed with a 36-4 vote.
The bill requires retailers to charge at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag at check out, and directs that five cents of the amount collected from the sale of paper bags go back to the city or town for enforcement of the ban, as well as for other municipal recycling efforts. The retailer may keep the remainder of the fee to recoup the costs of providing paper bags.
“While Massachusetts may not be able to tackle the proliferation of plastics worldwide, we can take concrete action at home,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Implementing a statewide ban on plastic bags, and encouraging the use of reusable bags, is an important first step. I’d like to thank Senator Jamie Eldridge for his tireless advocacy on this issue, Senator Michael Rodrigues for his work on the bill…, and my Senate colleagues for having a sense of urgency on this matter.”
“As the lead Senate sponsor of the plastic bag ban since I first arrived in the Senate in 2009, I am proud to join my senator colleagues in passing one of the strongest plastic bag bans in the country,” noted Eldridge (D-Acton). “…I’m extremely pleased that the Senate has passed legislation that will address the negative impacts of single-use plastic bags on our environment.”
To provide consistency for retailers across the state, the bill would preempt existing plastic bag bans already implemented in cities and towns. In addition, the ban would continue to allow for plastic bags for specific products where plastic serves an enhanced purpose, such as for produce, poultry or other food items to keep them fresh, or for frozen items or items prone to leak, for example.
To address concerns about cost, the bill allows small retail shops additional time to comply with the fee requirement. It also allows persons paying for their purchase with an EBT card to acquire their recycled carry-out paper bag for no fee.
Over 100 Massachusetts cities and towns have already passed local laws banning plastic, as have Maine, Vermont, New York City, Washington DC, Hawaii, California, Connecticut and Delaware.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.