Boston’s plastic bag ban will officially begin on December 14, after City Council unanimously approved the legislation and Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed the ordinance last year. Watch the video to see how the issue has developed since then.
For the first few months of 2019, the new law will only affect establishments that are more than 20,000 square feet; beginning in April, 2019, those establishments less than 10,000 square feet will also be subject to the law. And a few months following, beginning summer of 2019, all establishments across the city will be required to be plastic-bag free.
“We know that single-use plastic bags have an impact on the environment. They often end up in City streets and gutters, abandoned lots, and even in trees,” city officials write. “Through this ordinance, the City aims to reduce the use of disposable checkout bags by retail stores in Boston.” The city also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste, and protect marine wildlife, reports the Boston Globe.
So what does this mean for shoppers? If you’re a shopper, you will be responsible for either bringing your own bags or paying for a compostable bag or paper bag. “Charges for checkout bags will appear separately on the receipt. To avoid being charged, customers can bring their own bags when shopping,” explained the ordinance. That’ll be the case at grocery stores, restaurants (no more take-out bags for you), shopping bags, etc. Only smaller bags used for produce, newspapers, dog waste, and dry-cleaning (or similar uses) are exempt from the ordinance. Retailers are also able to opt out of providing bags at all, forcing customers to provide their own supply.
In very specific cases, businesses are able to apply for temporary exemptions to the ordinance, if they feel they are unable to make the change.
With this move, Boston will be joining 81 other cities and towns in Massachusetts to ban plastic bags.