Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Boston City Council Approves Plastic Bag Ban

Popular
Mitchell Haindfield / Flickr

You might want to bring a tote if you plan on shopping in Beantown next year. Boston City Council voted 12-0 on Wednesday to ban single-use plastic bags across the Massachusetts capital.

The measure now heads to Mayor Marty Walsh, who is said to be reviewing the proposal, which requires businesses to charge no less than five cents for other types of shopping bags, such as reusable bags, compostable plastic bags and recyclable paper bags, the Associated Press reported. Businesses would keep the proceeds from the fee.


"More than 350 million single-use plastic bags hit the streets of Boston this year alone, most of which end up filling our landfills, littering our communities, and polluting our air when burned up in incinerators," said Kirstie Pecci, director of the Conservation Law Foundation's Zero Waste Project.

Pecci noted that dozens of nearby municipalities have had similar policies for years. "This new ordinance protects the health of our neighborhoods and our environment, while at the same time easing the burden on taxpayers and saving local retailers millions. We are optimistic that Mayor Walsh will follow the lead of 59 other Massachusetts cities and towns and sign this ordinance into law."

If approved, there would be a one-year implementation period before the ordinance takes effect. During this time, council members plan to work with the Boston Housing Authority, Office of Energy, Environment and Open Space and community groups to make free reusable bags available, according to Waste Dive.

Walsh was opposed to a version of the ban last year due to its potential impact on low income households and small businesses.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which lobbies for plastic bag manufacturers, urged the Democratic mayor to veto the ordinance, arguing that it would encourage the use of products that are "worse for the environment" than the bags the council wants to ban, the AP reported.

But Councilor Matt O'Malley, who introduced the proposal with Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu, countered at Wednesday's council meeting that the convenience of plastic bags "does not outweigh the significant costs associated with them."

O'Malley also said the measure would save the city money because it would reduce the number of hours that the city's recycling company is forced to spend picking plastic bags out of recycling collections.

"This plastic bag ordinance is one example of a small step that is completely within the city's control to take," Wu said. "There is a tremendous cost to doing nothing on every single one of these climate initiatives."

Significantly, Waste Dive observed that Boston's potential bag bag could serve as a tipping point for Massachusetts-wide action due to a patchwork of local bag-law language.

But whatever happens in Boston, it's clear that the bag-ban movement is gaining traction. Around the world, a growing number of towns, cities and even entire countries have banished these petroleum-based, non-biodegradable items over their harm to the environment and to marine life.

Last month, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a bill that prohibits the sale of plastic bags in 102 coastal villages and towns in a bid to stop the build-up of ocean plastic and to "[take] care of our marine ecosystems."

"Our fish are dying from plastics ingestion or strangulation—it's a task in which everyone must collaborate," Bachelet said.

An estimated eight million tons of plastic trash gets dumped into our oceans each year, literally choking marine life, harming ocean ecosystems and threatening the larger food chain.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of people congregate along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images

By Melissa Hawkins

After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.

Read More Show Less
A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig is located on farmland near Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 2012. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.

Read More Show Less
Youth participate in the Global Climate Strike in Providence, Rhode Island on September 20, 2019. Gabriel Civita Ramirez / CC by 2.0

By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud

Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?

Read More Show Less
A crowd awaits the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota on June 23, 2012. Mindy / Flickr

Fire experts have already criticized President Trump's planned fireworks event for this Friday at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial as a dangerous idea. Now, it turns out the event may be socially irresponsible too as distancing guidelines and mask wearing will not be enforced at the event, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Mountains of produce, including eggs, milk and onions, are going to waste as the COVID-19 pandemic shutters restaurants, restricts transport, limits what workers are able to do and disrupts supply chains. United States government work

By Emma Charlton

Gluts of food left to rot as a consequence of coronavirus aren't just wasteful – they're also likely to damage the environment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The gates of the unusually low drought-affected Carraizo Dam are seen closed in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico on June 29, 2020. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico's governor declared a state of emergency on Monday after a severe drought on the island left 140,000 people without access to running water, despite the necessary role that hand washing and hygiene plays in stopping the novel coronavirus, as The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less