MassPIRG: Haverhill One of Only Two Cities So Far to Bring Back Plastic Bag Ban

(WHAV News File photograph.)

Haverhill is one of only two cities studied by an advocacy group to immediately reinstate plastic bag bans following the governor’s lifting of a COVID-19-related ban on reusable bags.

In a survey of 15 Massachusetts cities, researchers at Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group found that, despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s July 13 order allowing for the reinstatement of plastic bag bans and the use of reusable bags, local delays and confusion remain.

Of the 15 cities studied—all of which have plastic bag bans on their books—only Haverhill and Lynn brought back their single-use plastic bag bans. Boston, Lowell, Newton, Somerville and Brookline established dates by which plastic bags will once again be banned. MassPIRG said Worcester, Plymouth and Malden could not be reached after several attempts.

Framingham’s policy is “under discussion,” according to a Framingham Dept. of Public Health official, and Quincy has not yet established a date for reinstatement. Watertown will allow a 30- to 45-day grace period after a public announcement of the change, but has not decided when that period will begin. Cambridge delayed allowing reusable bags but permitted them as of July 25, and while they never allowed for single use plastic, they delayed their 10-cent fee on “compostable plastic bags” and paper bags until Aug. 10.

“We understand and have no quarrel with the fact that some cities and towns allowed for a ‘rollout’ to re-start their plastic bag bans,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG. “But we are troubled to see there is still some confusion and uncertainty on returning to this important policy. Our main message is that we cannot let the pandemic lead us to more waste, or let the plastic industry propaganda that disposables are ‘healthy’ prevail.”

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