What You Need to Know: Boston’s Plastic Bag Ordinance Goes Into Effect on Dec. 14.

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Boston is taking a big step this week to be more environmentally friendly as the city's plastic bag ordinance goes into effect on Dec. 14. The ordinance is intended to lessen the use of disposable checkout bags by retail stores.

The ordinance requires 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 was co-sponsored by At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu and District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley, and it will reduce litter on the streets, avoid plastic bags ending up in our waterways, in 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.

"I am thrilled to see the progress made in the year preparing for the implementation for this ordinance," said O'Malley, chair of the Environment, Sustainability and Parks Committee. "Since introduced, I have been working to ensure that every resident who may need a reusable bag receives one and will continue to push for greater access as the ordinance rolls out."

The ordinance doesn't include newspaper bags, bags that are used to wrap produce, frozen food, meat or fish. It also doesn't include laundry/dry cleaner bags or trash can liners.

The city has also provided retail stores the basics of the plastic bag ordinance, including a list of certified retailers.

Retail establishments will be inspected starting Dec. 14 if they're 20,000 sq. ft. or larger. Businesses that are 10,000 sq. ft. and larger will start being inspected on April 1, 2019, and retail businesses smaller than 10,000 sq. ft. will begin being inspected on July 1, 2019. Businesses in violation will receive a warning on its first violation, a $50 fine for the second violation and a $100 fine for a third violation.

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