Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies.

The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires straws and plasticware to be available only by request and creates a program to recycle large items like car seats. It now heads to the House.

The move comes as a growing number of states are address concerns about plastics that harm wildlife, pollute waterways and clog landfills. Each day, the equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes, according to the U.N. Environment Programme. People are increasingly breathing, eating and drinking tiny plastic particles.

“This vital legislation is another step forward towards eradicating plastics, a top environmental offender, in our everyday life,” Sen. Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Environmentalists welcomed the move, which would make Massachusetts the 13th state to pass a plastic bag ban and builds on local initiatives in Massachusetts. Communities representing 70% of the state's population already have bans.

It also codified an executive order signed last year by Gov. Maura Healey, which she says made Massachusetts the first state to ban the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies.

“State leaders have chosen to take a big step toward reducing waste and protecting our neighbors and local wildlife from the dangers of excessive plastic usage,” Sierra Club Massachusetts State Political Director Jess Nahigian, said in a statement. “Plastics harm our ecosystems and communities. Cutting down on plastics is a necessary step toward achieving our state climate goals and creating a more sustainable home for future generations of Massachusetts residents."

But the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which promotes fiscal responsibility, said the ban is part of a larger trend by the Senate to limit choices for consumers.