Cities, towns move forward with plastic bag bans

boston cambridge plastic bag shopper plastic bags
Cambridge is considering a ban on certain plastic bags, but lawmakers and city leaders believe a statewide ban would be better.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro

Brookline has banned them. Cambridge is moving toward forbidding them. And Marblehead voters will decide this spring whether or not to banish them from the town. 

While a law on a statewide ban of certain plastic bags sits in a State House committee, more and more communities are moving forward to ban the bags on their own.

However, municipal leaders said they prefer a statewide ban be enacted to make it easier on retailers, consumers and municipalities.

“It’s not ideal to have individual communities regulate things like this,” said Cambridge Mayor David Maher. A city council committee there is working to schedule another public meeting on the plastic bag ban before a final vote before the city council.

Former Cambridge city councilor and current state Rep. Marjorie Decker proposed the city ban. She said she’s hopeful fellow state lawmakers will realize it’s time to pass one.

“This is the train that’s already left and it just makes sense,” Decker said. “It makes sense to have the same rules and same expectations across every community.”

Decker’s colleague, state Rep. Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead, proposed a statewide ban that merged with another bill that now sits in the House Ways and Means committee. She said her bill had 30 cosponsors. It has been in Ways and Means since April.

“The one thing there is a need for is statewide action because what happens is you end up with sort of a patchwork quilt with different regulations and different approaches,” she said.

While Hawaii has a de-facto statewide ban, so far no state in the country has passed a ban on plastic bags.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts has opposed a statewide effort to ban plastic bags and called local-level bans a “compliance nightmare” for its members.

“We really think restricting consumer choice is not the way to go,” said Bill Rennie, the association’s vice president, who added that banning less expensive plastic bags would increase the cost to the retailer and eventually onto the consumer.

He said using a ban to get at the problem of plastic bags is misdirected.

“It’s not the plastic bag’s fault that it ends up thrown away in the street as litter. That’s sort of a societal problem,” he said.

In Brookline, where a ban on certain plastic bags went into effect late last year, businesses seem to be dealing well, said a town official.

“It has gone more smoothly than I anticipated,” said Alan Balsam, Brookline’s director of public health and human services.

Balsam said that of the 75 Brookline businesses impacted by the ban, he has only had to grant six waivers to give those establishments more time to comply. Other businesses have been making it work, he said.

“This is the wave of the future and I think businesses are getting on board with it,” he said.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth photobombs Australian hockey players trying…

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Television

Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.

Movies

The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…