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Published on June 21, 2024
Massachusetts State Senate Passes Landmark 'Act to Reduce Plastics' in Drive for Environmental SustainabilitySource: Google Street View

The Massachusetts State Senate has officially passed a bill aimed at cutting down on single-use plastics within the state. According to WHDH, the new legislation, known as the "Act to Reduce Plastics," would ban plastic bags in stores and require a 10-cent fee for every paper bag, with half of this fee designated for environmental initiatives. The move reflects a growing trend as 160 cities and towns across Massachusetts have already implemented bans on single-use plastic bags.

This legislative push towards sustainability didn't just arise in the vacuum. The Senate's decision echoes the sentiment held by many Massachusetts residents concerning the environmental footprint of single-use plastics. As reported by Boston 25 News, Senate President Karen Spilka highlighted the positive impact this could have, saying, "Limiting our plastics use means less trash in our water ways and on our streets, and giving our kids the green, clean planet they deserve to inherit." Furthermore, senators assert that the bill, S.2830, is a critical component in addressing the state's climate goals.

The aforementioned legislation also extends beyond plastic bags. It mandates that straws and plasticware only be made available upon request and introduces measures to facilitate recycling practices. A significant feature of the bill is the establishment of a program for the recycling of larger plastic items, such as car seats. In aligning with efforts already made on a smaller scale, this recent Senate action propels the state towards consistency in its environmental policies—a step celebrated by both legislators and environmental advocates alike.

Several senators, including Michael Rodrigues, have labeled the bill as "vital" for moving away from plastics, which he described as "a top environmental offender." This sentiment is shared by Sen. Rebecca Rausch who emphasized the profound effects of plastics on communities and ecosystems, telling Boston 25 News, "From microplastics in our blood to plastic bags in our waterways to greenhouse gases in our air, plastics pollute and harm our people and planet." She also noted that the Plastics Reduction Act would prevent a significant amount of plastic waste from impacting the environment annually.

Key elements of the bill include the creation of a new commission to recommend ways in which the state can encourage or require businesses to support product recycling. Additionally, it prioritizes composting by directing the Department of Environmental Protection to report on the state’s composting accessibility and advances Governor Maura Healey's previous executive order on banning single-use plastic bottles in state agencies. The bill's passage in the Senate marks the second time that body has sought to prohibit single-use plastic bags statewide, a clear indication of the priority given to environmental and public health concerns in the Commonwealth's legislative agenda.