More Towns Ban Plastic Bags: Momentum Builds for Statewide Solution
BOSTON — Last month, two more towns in Massachusetts passed measures to end the use of plastic bags, and backers say it's fueling support for a statewide ban.
As more towns and cities pass local bag ordinances, Rep. Lori Ehrlich of Essex said it builds momentum for her statewide legislation. She said as towns and cities craft their own solutions to minimize plastic bag waste, industry representatives also are looking for a statewide solution.
"The local communities are coming up with all different approaches, so it's creating sort of a patchwork quilt of local regulations that are making it harder for the retailers to comply,” Ehrlich said.
Plastic bag bans are also in the works for Boston, Arlington and Springfield.
Opponents of banning plastic bags say it's an inconvenience that will ultimately cost consumers and hurt businesses. But Ehrlich said her bill includes a one-year phase-out that gives people time to change their shopping habits.
Savings can be a factor for communities making these decisions. Paul Degnan, general manager of Casella Recycling, said companies like his end up passing the cost on to cities when plastic bags tie up the works at recycling facilities.
"These plastic bags get wrapped around the equipment,” Degnan said. “They decrease our efficiencies and we have to spend extra labor and manpower cutting these bags and removing them."
Brad Verter founded the Mass Green Network in 2015 as a peer-to-peer collective to connect grassroots activists working on local measures to green their cities and towns. Since they started, he said Mass Green members have passed over 40 laws and regulations to reduce plastic waste.
"So when I started, I think there was about 15 bag bans across the state, and now there's 44, I think,” Verter said. "When I started, there were nine regulations about Styrofoam and other kinds of polystyrene, and now there's 20; and again, there's a lot more coming down the pike."
Verter said he would welcome a statewide bill. Until then, he said his network will continue to work, town by town, to rid the state of plastic products that end up in trees, wash up on beaches, and foul the environment.