Ban the Bag, Mass!

Active | April 06 2016

Plastic Pollution

The chapter is working with our Northeast Regional Manager to help pass statewide legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags and add a 10-cent fee on paper and reusable bags provided at point of sale in Massachusetts, in stores over 3K square feet.

House Rep. Lori Ehrlich introduced a strong state bill to ban plastic bags in Massachusetts, which originally touted an effective date of July 1, 2017, fees on reusables and paper bags, and all out ban on plastic bags. Surfrider recommended a couple amendments to remove so-called "marine degradable" and "compostable" bag exemptions, and to add explicit penalties and remedies for noncompliance. That bill did not make it out of Assembly, but fortunately, Rep. Ehrlich and Senator Eldridge have sister bills before the General Assembly now that stand a good chance of passing.

The current bill contains strong language that would close the thickness loophole and encourage reusable bag use, by placing a fee on all bags given at point of sale in the state at retail establishments that are 3K square feet or larger, from enactment and through August 1, 2018. After August 1, 2018, single-use plastic bags would be banned, with the fee system in place for paper and reusable bags.

Additionally, this bill would apply to all municipalities, across the state. It's strong legislation that we support, and it appeals to legislators across the aisle as it would be good for the environment by mitigating plastic debris and good for business by providing consistency for bag regulation for those doing business in the state. This bill would be precedent-setting, and we're working hard to try to get it passed.


This bill was re-introduced in January, 2017, as SD 424 with a sister bill in the House, H2121. The public hearing was held before the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture committee on October 24, 2017, and written testimony will be accepted through the work session, which could happen at any time before February 7, 2018. Submit your support for this legislation ASAP by emailing the committee members!


The best way to support our work is to become a member of the Surfrider Foundation.

To get more directly involved in our efforts in Massachusetts, please give our vice chair a shout at You can also visit our MA Chapter Facebook page to see when our next meeting or event is, and come on out!!! We need you! The ocean needs you! Get involved today!

Not sure what the big deal is with plastic bags? Learn more here:


Plastic Pollution

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

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