Plastic Bag Ban Updates Presented at Neighborhood Council

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Stephanie Acquario, Boston’s Disposable Bag Reduction Coordinator, spoke at the January North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council meeting about the plastic bag ordinance that went into effect on December 14, 2018.

The plastic bag ban requires all retailers in the City of Boston to transition away from plastic bags to paper, compostable or reusable bags that customers can purchase for a minimum of 5 cents. Individuals are encouraged to carry their own reusable bags with them to avoid this charge.

Acquario talked about the types of bags that are now allowed which must be either 40% post-consumer recycled paper bags, compostable plastic bags or reusable bags. Stores such as CVS and Star Market are using thicker plastic bags that do meet the requirement for reusable bags due to the thickness.

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If you visit a store that is not complying with the new ordinance, you can report them. These stores will then be inspected before any other store. A reminder that stores 20,000 sq.ft. and over are currently being inspected. Stores 10,000 – 20,000 sq.ft. will be inspected beginning April 1, and under 10,000 sq. ft. will begin on July 1. However, stores that are reported will be inspected immediately, regardless of this phasing in of enforcement.

In the first year, businesses in violation will not be fined, they will just receive an information packet on how they can do better.

Businesses can use up the rest of their plastic bag inventory before switching over if they receive an exemption. Apply here.

NEWNC President John Pregmon passed along a question about the types of bags businesses can use. Specifically, businesses are considering paper bags, but what happens with heavier items or when it rains? The City of Boston has put together a list of compliant bags. Acquario suggested retailers provide the reusable plastic or compostable plastic bags that are waterproof. She also encouraged customers to bring their own bags.

You can report a store through 311 or contact Stephanie at 617-635-1761 or stephanie.acquario@boston.gov. You can also volunteer to educate local businesses by delivering information packets. Learn more at boston.gov/plastic-bags.

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