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Cambridge plastic bag ban vote expected Monday

Cambridge may become the largest city on the east coast to put a plastic bag ban in place.
Cambridge is inchingcloser to a ban on certain plastic bags.Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro

The Cambridge City Council on Monday night is expected to vote on whether the city will become the largest on the east coast to ban plastic bags.

If adopted, Cambridge’s Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance would make require stores to replace disposal plastic bags with recyclable ones.

Cambridge City Councillor Dennis Carlone has said the ban would protect local waterways, reduce waste and protect marine life.

“It’s almost silly that [the ban] hasn’t happened yet,” Carlone told Metro. “It’s kind of crazy how terrible it is, yet we don’t seem to do anything on it. For it to go into another year would be disrespectful to our environment.”

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Cambridge first began examining the potential plastic bag ban in 2007, but has since had little success taking action on it.

Much of that has been due to financial concerns from local businesses, Carlone said.

“The benefits far outweigh any additional costs that will be bourn by companies. We’re not talking about huge expenses here,” he said. “It seems very easy to do. I think everyone would say it’s common sense.”

The Retail Association of Massachusetts does not support the ban. On its website, the organization said a ban on plastic bags is not needed and will not correct the problems associated with improper disposal of the bags.

“Many retailers now educate their customers on bag recycling and reuse and provide multiple options at checkout so customers can determine the type of bag they wish to use to carry out their purchases,” the association writes.

Metro had difficulty getting Cambridge store managers to weigh in on the matter.

“We have locations in other states where there are similar bans, so that’s definitely something we’d be able to adapt to,” said Cambridge’s Blick Art Materials manager Courtney, who declined to give her last name.

If passed, Carlone said the ban would go into effect within the next few months.

A similar measure went into effect in Brookline in November 2013, though that ban extends to plastic bags as well as polystyrene containers. That same year, lawmakers moved for Massachusetts to be the first state to enact a plastic bag ban, but the measure was stalled.

In 1990, Nantucket became the first U.S. municipality to pass the ban. Great Barrington and Manchester have also banned the bags.

 
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