Massachusetts would eliminate carry-out plastic bags from retail stores around the state under a new bill set for debate this week in the State Senate.
Released on Monday, the proposal would expand on measures already adopted in over 100 cities and towns across the commonwealth, according to the office of Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, who introduced the bill. Maine, Vermont and Connecticut already have plastic bag bans in place.
The proposed bill, which will be debated in front of the state Senate on Wednesday, would require retailers to charge at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag at check out. Half of the 10 cents would pay for the bags, while the other half would go back to the city or town for the enforcement of the ban and other recycling efforts.
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The bill would preempt existing plastic bag bans in cities and towns that already have a plastic bag law on the books and would make an exception for instances in which plastic bags are necessary, like at grocery stores for items such as produce, poultry or other food that needs to stay fresh or could leak.
Spilka said she believes encouraging the use of reusable bags is an important first step in promoting a greener world, an idea she encountered in a display about sea animals starving to death after eating plastic she saw at an aquarium while on a family trip to British Columbia and Alaska
"I was saddened and disgusted, quite frankly, when I was confronted with the reality of what plastics in our oceans do to the animals who call it home," Spilka said in a statement. "Beyond that, it made me realize how the health of our planet depends so much on the health of our oceans. While Massachusetts may not be able to tackle the proliferation of plastics worldwide, we can take concrete action at home."