Rep. Stanley supports reducing plastic bag pollution

In a letter to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Rep. Stanley urged favorable action on H.771/S.462, legislation reducing plastic bag pollution. Rep. Stanley is a co-sponsor of this legislation and fully endorses all the environmental benefits a ban on plastic bags would bring to MA.

Currently, the U.S. uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year (made from the equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil) at a cost to retailers of $4 billion. Even though consumers have the option of returning these bags back to retailers, only 5% end up being recycled. As a result, many plastic bags are ending up in landfills, on our streets, or in our oceans. Plastic bags are extremely difficult to biodegrade and the UN estimated that 1 billion animals die each year from accidentally consuming them. A recent report from the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that if we continue to dispense of plastic bags at the rate we are, there will be a greater weight of plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Moreover, discarded plastic bags are clogging up municipal sewer drains, leading to harmful and expensive flooding.

H.771/S.462 would ban single-use plastic carryout bags at all stores on and after August 1, 2019 and imposes a 10 cent fee from the day of enactment until the law goes into effect. After August 1st, stores will have the option to sell recycled paper bags for a fee of 10 cents or sell reusable grocery bags at the point of sale. While this legislation preempts local laws in to maintain uniformity across the Commonwealth, municipalities would still be allowed to implement additional requirements that go beyond state law.

In Massachusetts, over 100 cities and towns have passed some form of legislation regulating the sale of plastic bags with another dozen others considering measure.