City Council Passes Ban on Plastic Bags, Mayor Reviewing Ordinance

The Boston City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on Wednesday that would ban thin plastic shopping bags and create a 5-cent fee on paper bags and thicker bags.

The purpose of the ordinance, which was co-sponsored by At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu and District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley, is to reduce litter on the streets, avoid plastic bags ending up in our waterways, trees and harming the environment. Using fewer plastic bags would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste, while promoting the use of recyclable bags.

A spokesperson for the mayor told Jamaica Plain News that the mayor is “reviewing the proposal.” If the mayor approves the ordinance, it would go in effect one year after he signed it into law.

O’Malley said the city would simply save money by reducing the amount of time the city’s recycling company has to pick plastic bags out of recycling collections, reported Universalhub.com.

O’Malley estimates Bostonians use 357 million of the bags a year. Under the ordinance any bag provided by a retail business to a customer must be either a reusable bag, a recyclable paper bag or a compostable plastic bag. The retail business that provides the bag for no less than five cents per bag will keep the the money generated by the fee. Customers would see a “checkout bag charge” on their receipt, letting them know about the 5-cent fee.

The ordinance would not ban newspaper bags, or bags used to contain or wrap produce, frozen foods, meat or fish that are used to prevent or contain moisture.

Enforcement of the ordinance would be done by the Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space and would first issue a warning notice, a following violation would lead to a $50 fine and a second offense would be a $100 fine.