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Massachusetts Senate passes plastic ban
Massachusetts Senate passes plastic ban

A plastic bag remains caught in a tree on Putnam Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 3, 2016. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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A ban on single-use plastic items like bags and straws is moving closer to reality in Massachusetts after the Senate passed a comprehensive plastics bill last Thursday. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 38 to 2.

The ban, which has now been submitted to the state House of Representatives, would ban plastic bags in retail stores, charge a $0.10 fee per paper bag used, and make straws and plastic cutlery available only upon request. The $0.10 per paper bag would use 50% of the fee collected to pay for retailer expenses and the other 50% to go toward environmental initiatives, South Coast Today reported.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the bill would also establish a recycling program for large plastic items such as car seats.

“This important legislation is another step forward in eradicating plastic, one of the biggest polluters, from our daily lives,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues, chairman of the Senate committee, according to an Associated Press report.

In addition, the bill will enact a previous executive order by Gov. Maura Healey banning state agencies from purchasing single-use plastic bottles, which was signed in September 2023, PBS reported.

If the bill passes, Massachusetts will become the 13th state to implement a plastic ban. The state has already implemented many local plastic restrictions, and about 70% of the population in over 160 cities and towns are affected by a ban on the use of single-use plastic bags.

According to the Sierra Club, about 900,000 tons of plastic were thrown away in Massachusetts in 2022 alone. A ban on single-use plastics could help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the state’s landfills each year.

In a report published in early 2024, researchers found that plastic bans, particularly plastic bag bans, have had a major impact in the U.S. Bans in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Vermont – as well as bans in Portland, Oregon and Santa Barbara, California – have reduced single-use plastic bag consumption by around 6 billion bags per year.

“Today, state leaders decided to take a major step to reduce waste and protect our neighbors and local wildlife from the dangers of excessive plastic use,” said Jess Nahigian, political director of the Sierra Club Massachusetts, in a statement. “Plastic harms our ecosystems and communities. Reducing plastic use is a necessary step to meet our state climate goals and create a more sustainable home for future generations of Massachusetts residents. This is an important and critical step to reduce plastics, and the Sierra Club Massachusetts calls on the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass this bill.”

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By Aurora