An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution (H.4234) has just passed a significant milestone on its path to becoming law! While there is a long way to go, the Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts Chapter has been campaigning in support of this bill and is excited to see it take this big step forward.
On 15 February 2018, H.4234 was reported favorably from the Joint Committee on Environment Natural Resources and Agriculture by a 13-1 vote. The bill is now under consideration by the House Committee on Ways and Means and must reported favorably from this committee before moving on to the full House.
H.4234 is a re-draft of the bag bill that had previously been under consideration (S.424/H.2121). It maintains a good definition of reusable bag without exceptions for thick-film or compostable plastic bags, avoiding key loopholes that have hampered bag laws passed in other places.
The current version does include several key changes:
- The requirement to provide ONLY recycled paper or reusable carryout bags (effective 1 August 2019) would now apply to nearly all stores and restaurants, instead of just larger or chain establishments.
- The bill no longer requires a mandatory fee for reusable or recycled paper bags
- Local rules would be superseded by the state law. However, this bill explicitly preserves the right of communities to pass or reinstate any stricter regulations after 1 August 2019.
While the Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts Chapter would strongly prefer to see mandatory bag charges to incentivize bag reuse and defray costs for retailers, H.4234 continues to be one of the strongest efforts to reduce plastic bag pollution under consideration anywhere.
Not sure what the problem with plastic bags is? Check out the information here!
How Can I help?
- Contact the Key Players: The support of House Leadership, especially Speaker Robert DeLeo and Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, are critical to the progress of the bill. You can help by sending them a personal message asking them to support and advance H.4234. When writing, it is often useful to include your full name and address to verify your relationship to Massachusetts.
- Contact your Own Representative: After looking up your state representative, reach out and ask them what they can do to make sure H.4234 gets a vote before the end of this legislative session.
- Support a Local Bag Ban: In the past few years, over 60 communities in MA have passed local rules to reduce bag pollution. This has been critical to building up support for the statewide bill. If your city or town isn’t on the list yet, the Surfrider Foundation and the Mass Green Network have many resources to help you MAKE IT HAPPEN!
- Join Surfrider MA’s Campaign: We’re always looking for volunteers to help. All skill or experience levels welcome! Write to the Chapter Campaigns Coordinator if you’d like to hop on board!
Not sure what to write? Even a simple message saying who you are, where you live, and “I support the passage of H.4234 An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution” can make a big difference. If you want to go even further, look at a few ideas on what you could write about here:
- How has plastic litter affected you, your family, and your community?
- If you live or work in a place that has local restrictions on plastics, how have these affected you?
- What alternatives to single-use plastic bags do you use and why?
- How do you use and enjoy our natural environment? What makes you want to protect it?
- How do you want our state to be seen nationally and globally on these type of issues?
Let’s do this! If you have any questions, please let us know how we can help!