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
News

Ditka calls Redskins team name critics 'politically correct…

Mike Ditka, the 74-year-old 11-season coach of the Chicago Bears and 3-season coach of the New Orleans Saints, may be endangering his position as an…

National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Television

'MasterChef' open tryouts are coming to NYC

Home cooks, sharpen your knives. Tryouts are coming for the sixth season of the reality show that challenges ordinary chefs to rise to restaurant standards.…

Movies

Review: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'…

The belated sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" makes one question whether the first one may have been not so hot. Still, Eva Green vamping!

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…