Boston is heading toward a ban on single-use plastic bags despite some reservations expressed by the city's mayor.
Mayor Marty Walsh has signed into law a new measure unanimously approved by City Council in late November that both outlaws thin plastic bags that are often used only once and puts a 5-cent fee on thicker plastic bags designed to encourage reuse. The fee also applies to paper bags with handles.
The news was slammed by the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a plastics industry group working to block the measure, calling it an “unconstitutional new bag tax.”
“First and foremost, we are very disappointed for the citizens and businesses in Boston. In the year before the ordinance goes into effect, we encourage the mayor to work with the new City Council to address the major issues with this law,” said APBA Executive Director Matt Seaholm, in a prepared statement.
“As it stands now, this is an unconstitutional tax that will be particularly harmful to seniors and low-income families in Boston. Additionally, it incentivizes the use of products that can be worse for the environment than 100-percent recyclable, highly reused plastic retail bags,” he continued.
But those who support the ban said the move will help fight litter.
“This plastic bag ordinance is one example of a small step that is completely within the city's control to take,” Council President Michelle Wu said after her group passed the measure Nov. 29.
Walsh took more than two weeks to sign the measure while he contemplated the impact the move would have on low-income residents. Ultimately, he said he decided the move was good for the environment, according to a report in the Boston Globe.
Boston is the 60th municipality in Massachusetts to institute a ban.