Massachusetts

Strengthen the Newton, MA Bag Law!

Victory | July 08 2019

Plastic Pollution

The Surfrider MA Chapter advocated for the Newton City Council to amend their current plastic bag law to include a minimum bag charge on paper bags to properly incentivize reusable bags

Newton had a positive committee vote on proposed amendments to strengthen their bag law early in 2019, and our volunteers in the MA Chapter then worked alongside residents to ensure passage, which happened at the Council's July 8, 2019 meeting.

The strengthened ordinance requires a minimum 10-cent fee on all bags distributed at point of sale. Stores larger than 3,500 square feet will begin charging the fee in six months, and smaller retailers are required to charge for paper in one year.

Additionally, the definition of "reusable bag" was also strengthened to effectively ban all single-use plastic film bags under 4 mils (see Chapter 12 Section 71 of Newton City ordinances for the updated law). It's excellent that Newton moved to assess a fee on ALL bags, as while a majority of plastic films are made from polyethylene resin, which is explicitly banned under the new Newton law, because alternatives that are measured in grams per square inch are leveraging definitions for reusable bags as loopholes to advance the employment of cheapo plastic fabric bags with menacing environmental impacts, the Newton law closes that loophole with the required fee on ALL bags.

The new definition of "reusable bags" is expressed as:

“A reusable bag means a sewn bag with stitched handles that can carry 25 pounds over a distance of 300 feet; is either (a) made of cloth or other machine washable fabric; or (b) made of plastic other than polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE, PETE, etc.) or polyvinyl chloride that is durable, non-toxic, and generally considered a food-grade material that is more than 4 mils thick.”

We applaud the city for its strengthening measures and positive momentum to mitigate pollution from single-use bags! With this update, Newton now joins the cities of Boston and Cambridge in having bag laws that assess a fee on all paper bags distributed at point of sale.

FMI: contact campaigns@ma.surfrider.org.

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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