Plastic Bans Movement in Massachusetts

See updated info at www.MassGreen.orgbyob



By Andy Metzger, 

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 13, 2015….Hoping that bans on plastic bags and Styrofoam containers could one day be in place statewide, environmentalists on Thursday celebrated varied plastic bans in place in 27 cities and towns.

Plastic grocery bags, plastic water bottles and Styrofoam containers extract a toll on the environment, including sea life, according to Ellen Curren, of Women Working for Oceans. “It litters our parks. It clogs our drains. It ends up in the ocean and then it ends up in us,” Curren said. “I’m just going to repeat that: Plastic ends up in us.”

According to Clint Richmond, who helped lead a plastic bag ban in Brookline, the 16 municipalities banning single-use plastic bags cover 7 percent of the population.

Michelle Gottlieb, an elected member of Marblehead Board of Health, which helped push bans on plastic bags and polystyrene, acknowledged that “there’s no doubt that paper bags cost more than those single-use plastic bags, but our goal that we’re working towards is that people are taking fewer bags to help offset that cost.” Marblehead’s ban went into effect in May 2015.

Several representatives of cities and towns that had banned plastic bags, bottles and polystyrene containers received citations at an event at the State House’s Grand Staircase on Thursday afternoon. The municipalities banning bags are Barnstable, Brookline, Cambridge, Concord, Falmouth, Great Barrington, Harwich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Nantucket, Newburyport, Newton, Northampton, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Williamstown, some of which have banned polystyrene and single-serve water bottles as well. The cities and towns banning polystyrene, but not plastic bags, are Amherst, Pittsfield, Somerville, and South Hadley.

A bill seeking to ban plastic bags statewide had a hearing in June before the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.


2) MOST INFO BELOW IS FROM Mass Green Network ( & Google Group) 11/2015

Massachusetts Plastic Bag Bans
To date (Oct 29, 2015) laws regulating single-use plastic bags have been passed in:

  • Barnstable
  • Brookline
  • Cambridge *
  • Concord
  • Falmouth
  • Great Barrington
  • Harwich
  • Manchester
  • Marblehead
  • Nantucket
  • Newburyport
  • Newton
  • Northampton
  • Provincetown
  • Wellfleet
  • Williamstown *

* Cambridge and Williamstown’s laws included a 10 cent fee per bag for paper bags.  On 26 October, the Attorney General approved Williamstown’s bylaw but disallowed the 10 cent fee. As a city, Cambridge’s ordinances are not subject to review by the Attorney General.

Groups are working on bag laws in:

  • Boston
  • Greenfield
  • Lee
  • Lenox
  • Natick
  • Pittsfield
  • Plymouth
  • Somerville
  • Springfield

Copies of every bag bylaw or ordinance that has been proposed or passed in the Commonwealth thus far are available at

Massachusetts Polystyrene bans
To date (Oct 29, 2015) laws regulating EPS foam and other forms of polystyrene have been passed in:

  • Amherst
  • Brookline
  • Great Barrington
  • Marblehead
  • Somerville
  • Nantucket
  • South Hadley
  • Pittsfield
  • Williamstown

Groups are working on polystyrene ban in:

  • Cambridge
  • Greenfield
  • Lee
  • Lenox

Copies of every polystyrene bylaw or ordinance that has been proposed or passed in the Commonwealth thus far are available at:


State and National Plastic and Paper Bag Legislation (dated 2013/14)
More than 20 states’ communities and 18 nations have legislation. See long list at
See US National Conference of State Legislatures info at

Plastic Bag Bans
16 Massachusetts communities have passed bans of single-use bags (as of 11/2015)
Scotland bans plastic bags

Plastic Bans Facebook  Pages
Ban the Bag Massachusetts,
Newburyport Facebook Page
The Trash-Free Natick Project

Plastic Straws
No Straw Pledge
Miami Beach Bans Drinking Straws

Water Bottles
Concord is first city to ban water bottles

Massachusetts considers ban on microbeads
MA Microbead legislation
Albany County bans Microbeads

Google Group
The Mass Green Network connects passionate citizens who want to be part of the solution
To subscribe, send email to

Women Working for Oceans
Keep Massachusetts Beautiful
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Mass Green Network
5 Gyres
Container Recycling Institute
Product Stewardship Institute

TED Talk: Hard Truths about Plastic Pollution
Plastic Seduction
Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans

Clean Ups
Coast Sweep

Marine Debris is Everyone’s Problem