Allowing baggers to drain public funds by polluting the state and forcing everyone else to clean up after them makes no economic sense. A plastic bag fee will cut clean up costs and better align expenses with costs. Good job, Senator Eldridge. Globe:
Come August of 2018 in Massachusetts, you may rarely hear the question “Paper or plastic?”
The Senate Thursday was poised to pass an almost $40 billion budget bill that included a provision banning single-use carryout bags at all retail establishments that are 3,000 square feet or larger, or have at least three locations in the state. The bag push, adopted by a bipartisan vote, is meant to make the state more environmentally friendly and was cheered by green advocates.
But it drew an immediate rebuke from local retail groups, which worry it will erode consumer choice at perhaps 20,000 retail locations and hurt mom-and-pop stores in their battle with online merchants for customers.
And Governor Charlie Baker telegraphed significant worry through a spokesman.
The administration, said Baker senior adviser Tim Buckley, “has serious concerns about enacting such a sweeping mandate through the budget process with little to no debate, especially due to the potential impacts on low-income families’ grocery bills, and retailers across Massachusetts.”
The budget provision, which faces major hurdles before it could become law, would allow stores to make a reusable grocery bag or recycled paper bag available for purchase at the point of sale, but retailers would have to charge at least 10 cents per bag.
Senator James B. Eldridge of Acton, a lead backer of the effort, said more than 30 of the state’s 351 cities and towns have already approved plastic bag bans. They include large cities like Cambridge and Newton and small towns like Truro and Lee.
Eldridge said plastic bags are harming sea creatures and wildlife, and littering Massachusetts’ landscape. He said the proposal is sensitive to small businesses because it exempts all retail stores under 3,000 square feet, unless they are part of a chain. And it’s sensitive to consumers, he asserted, because it allows plastic produce bags and dry-cleaning bags.
Plastic bags, he said, are “something that we really don’t need, given that there are alternatives like a reusable bag or a paper bag.”