Massachusetts

Strengthen your bag law, Watertown!

Loss | September 25 2018

Plastic Pollution

Watertown, Massachusetts strengthened its existing bag law.

The Massachusetts chapter worked with local activists to help Watertown proactively strengthen its bag law to close what is referred to as a "thickness loophole" that allows for thicker plastic bags to be given out for free, which studies prove then incentivizes their use in a single-use fashion, thereby contravening the intents of the regulation.

On September 25, 2018, the Town Council voted to strengthen the law but unfortunately, the mechanism they approved was to increase the allowable thickness from 4 mils to 5 mils, which would be a slight improvement had a fee been mandated, but as it was not, this gets us even further away from our global goals of source reduction as more low grade plastic will be used to manufacture the thicker 5 mil bags, which are still allowed for free and so incentivize consumers to use them instead of making the shift to reusable bags. This "improvement," therefore, is not solvent of any issue and in fact increases pollution and production of low grade plastics, and is therefore, a loss.

Locals tried to mandate a fee on paper bags + 5 mil plastic film bags to properly incentivize the use of reusable bags, but that effort unfortunately failed. Even though Watertown is organized as a city, City electeds did not feel confident enough to go the way of five other MA cities in assessing the needed fee on paper and reusable bags.

The amended ordinance took effect in March 2019.

For more information, email the MA Chapter's volunteer campaign coordinator, Alex Vai.

Another important way to support our work is to join or renew your Surfrider Foundation membership, and come get active with our chapter! Email our chair for information on monthly meetings and other ways to engage.

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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