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Massachusetts lags on banning plastics

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Plastics and other trash littered a salt marsh in Chelsea in April.

The Boston Globe, September 2023

Governor Maura Healey’s executive order banning state agencies from buying single-use plastic bottles sends a message to the Legislature that it needs to get serious about restricting plastics. The Commonwealth lags behind other states on banning plastic products. New Jersey has one of the nation’s strictest bans on plastic products. It bans single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Grocery stores 2,500 square feet or larger cannot sell paper bags — only reusable carryout bags.

Contrast that with Massachusetts, where there is a hodgepodge of local bag bans (157 cities and towns have them) but no statewide ban. Boston’s ban, implemented in late 2018, applies to checkout bags at retail stores, excluding dry cleaning, produce, and newspaper bags. Purchasing a bag costs at least 5 cents — not much of a deterrent. Some towns charge 10 cents per bag; some also ban polystyrene containers.

Massachusetts needs plastics legislation that goes well beyond Healey’s order. Numerous plastic bans have been proposed over the years, but none have passed. The Legislature is considering many bills in the 2023 session related to packaging, including the Plastics Reduction Act, which would create a statewide plastic bag ban and require disposable food service items (plates, bowls, cartons, etc.) to be biodegradable or compostable. The law would make Massachusetts the 11th state to pass a single-use ban.

Continue reading at The Boston Globe.

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