WESTBOROUGH – Two decanters full of ice water with lemon awaited thirsty attendees at a special Climate Week conference headed by Gov. Maura Healey on Thursday, Sept. 21.
There weren’t any single-use plastic bottles in sight.
One of the two executive orders signed by Healey at the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife headquarters immediately bans state agencies from buying the single-use plastic bottles.
“We need to get rid of single-use plastics,” she said.
Healey said the state is the first in the country to impose such a ban.
The executive order cited plastic bottles as harmful to the environment because they are made with fossil fuels, and disposing of these bottles causes pollution to the state’s waterways.
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Under the order, all Executive Department offices and agencies must stop purchasing single-use plastic bottles and seek alternatives.
They have until Dec. 31, 2023, to submit plans to the state’s Operational Services Division and the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience summaries of the steps taken to halt the expenditures of state funds for purchasing single-use plastic bottles, and reduce the sale or resale of these bottles on state property.
Single-use plastic bottles may be purchased only if there are no alternatives, in times of emergency, or when necessary to protect health, safety and welfare.
The other executive order will establish biodiversity conservation targets.
Healey said the order will help protect the state’s forests, farms and oceans, as well as the 400 plants and animals currently on the endangered species list.
As part of the order, all Executive Department offices and agencies support the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game in a comprehensive review of biodiversity conservation goals.
Bob Durand, a Marlborough resident and member of the state’s Fisheries and Wildlife Board, said the order will not only set goals, but it will also provide funds toward meeting those goals.
Healey was joined by Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll; the state’s new climate chief, Melissa Hoffer; Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper; Undersecretary for the Environment Stephanie Cooper; the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Tom O’Shea; representatives from Massachusetts Audubon and the Nature Conservancy; personnel from the Department of Conservation and Recreation; and local legislators, including state Reps. Carmine Gentile and Kate Donaghue.