Many of us don't think twice when we grab an extra plastic bag at the checkout line, but plastic bags have a disproportionate impact on our waste stream and environment and can take up to hundreds of years to degrade. In Massachusetts, legislators are working on a bill that would remove single use plastic bags at retail locations.
The bill, S.353, was amended on the 20th of last month and calls for the use of either compostable plastic bags (defined by ASTM standards) or reusable bags. It applys to retail stores with over 4,000 square feet. This action against plastic bag pollution follows in the footsteps of local plastic bag bans implemented in San Francisco, Los Angeles County, and Seattle.
Plastic bags have a huge impact on marine life such as turtles, whales, and fish, who mistake the plastic bags for food or become fatally entangled in them. The author of this bill, Senator James Eldridge, notes that of the 380 billion plastic bags used by Americans each year, only 5% ever get recycled.
Bill S.353 is currently in the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means waiting on financial review.
Hawaii banned bags statewide under local ordinances, but a statewide bag ban has yet to be passed in any State Legislature.