reducing plastic waste
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 and kills marine life. A beaked whale in the Philippines vomited blood before it died of dehydration and starvation with 88 lbs. of whole plastic bags in its gut. It is projected at if current trends continue, there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the ocean by 2050.
Fortunately, we can do something about this. This legislation phases-out single-use plastic bags by August 1, 2019, 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. There is precedent and momentum behind this idea, as 93 communities, representing over 40% of the state’s population, 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.