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Massachusetts Senate passes bill to restrict use of plastics, including bags and straws
Massachusetts Senate passes bill to restrict use of plastics, including bags and straws

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Senate has passed a sweeping bill to restrict the use of plastics. Among other things, state agencies will be banned from purchasing single-use plastic bottles.

The bill passed Thursday also bans the distribution of plastic take-out bags at retail stores across the state and requires stores to charge 10 cents for bags made from recycled paper. It also requires straws and plastic tableware to be available only upon request and creates a program to recycle large items such as car seats. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

The move comes as a growing number of countries raise concerns about plastics harming wildlife, polluting waterways and clogging landfills. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes every day. More and more people are breathing, eating and drinking tiny plastic particles.

“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 Budget Committee.

Environmentalists welcomed the move, which would make Massachusetts the 13th state to pass a plastic bag ban. It also builds on local initiatives in Massachusetts, where bans are already in place in communities representing 70 percent of the state’s population.

It also codified an executive order signed last year by Governor Maura Healey, which she said made Massachusetts the first state to ban state agencies from purchasing single-use plastic bottles.

“State leaders have chosen to take a big 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.”

But the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which advocates for responsible fiscal management, said the ban was part of a broader trend in the Senate to restrict consumer choice.

Michael Casey, Associated Press

By Aurora