reducing plastic waste
The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture discharged a new draft, H.4234 with a favorable report and referred it to the Committee on House Ways and Means on February 15, 2018.
The legislation was included in the Senate version of the Environmental Bond Bill but failed to be included in the final conference committee report at the end of the 190th Legislative Session.
The United States uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year, made from the equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil, at an estimated cost to retailers of $4 billion. The average time of use for a plastic bag is just 12 minutes, but the post-consumer lifespan for every single bag is hundreds of years. The plastic never truly biodegrades, it simply breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces and eventually makes its way into the food chain. It is projected at if current trends continue, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Fortunately, we can do something about this. This legislation implements a one year phase-out of single-use plastic bags, which clog our gutters and storm drains, litter our sidewalks, and harm marine life. The bill would place a minimum ten cent fee on single-use plastic bags, paper bags, and reusable bags. After one year, retailers and grocers may no longer provide plastic bags. There is precedent and momentum behind this idea, as 41 communities in Massachusetts have already passed their own ordinances and many have ordinances pending. California, which is the sixth largest economy in the world, implemented a plastic bag ban in 2014 without major disruption to their retail sector, and Massachusetts should do the same.