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Boston won't bag plastic bags until Sept. 30

Mayor Walsh announced today that Boston stores will continue to be allowed to use plastic bags until Sept. 30.

The city had originally abandoned its plastic-bag ban as an emergency measure in March as coronavirus tightened its grip on the state - which eventually banned the use of recyclable bags statewide, but which this week said shoppers could resume using recyclable and cloth bags on their shopping trips.

In a statement today, Walsh said the move would let stores use up their stocks of thin plastic bags:

While we're extending that suspension to best serve businesses and residents, I want to be clear that the Boston Public Health Commission and the state Department of Public Health have said that reusable bags are safe and people should feel free to use them.

He added that, until Sept. 30, stores cannot charge consumers for bags.

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Comments

That’s a lot of plastic bags that are going to end up in the ocean, landfill and trees just so Walsh can pander to the business community.

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Lots of businesses are struggling already, in case you can't tell. If we as a society are lenient to renters (e.g. BHA not evicting anyone until January 1), why shouldn't we do the same for businesses?

Also, think about the big picture: a lot more plastic bags were used and ended up in landfill before the bag ban. Why didn't the ever-so-progressive city government pass the bag ban earlier?

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I think this is a fair transition back to the existing policy. Stores bought plastic bags again in certain volumes. Some customers may not be confident in using reusable bags again immediately, but there is nothing preventing the usage of reusable bags now.

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Why can't we just mandate biodegradable (organic) plastics? Saves us from germs and the issue of paper bags ripping in the rain.

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They're typically re-used at a 60-70% rate -- more than any other item, and the replacement re-usable bags need to be used ~110-130+ times to offset the plastic difference in producing them vs. a traditional thin "single use" bag. Guessing most don't get reused that much.

Never mind the people who just get new, extra thick plastic bags from Star Market every time they go rather than bring them. And the rise in food born illnesses from people not washing their bags. And having to buy thicker plastic bags for garbages at home that these are so useful for.

Similar to the "strawless lids" that actually cause more plastic production, it's ineffective policy made for people who would rather feel good about something they don't understand, rather than actually solving a problem in a meaningful way -- ocean plastic and plastic pollution generally, which the cheap thin bags contribute comparatively little to.

In the US the overwhelming amount of trash makes it to landfill, at like a 98-99% rate. Ocean plastic is largely a problem of fishermen and lax trash handling standards in SE Asia.

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I'm not sure these talking points really add it all up. Thin plastic is a nightmare for any sort of recycling, because it gums up the machines if it's in the mix inadvertently. And it's clearly a key component of urban litter — stuck in trees, blowing in people's yards, and so on. The manufacturering cost analysis isn't factoring this in. In short, these things are a disaster.

Meanwhile,whike you're guessing, at my house, we have reusable bags that I'm sure we've had for over a decade. Some are probably going on 20 years. That 130x threshold isn't so hard to meet, really.

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How much did recycling machine damage and plastic bags stuck in trees decrease after Boston's ban? And how much did they increase again when the ban was waived for COVID?

I still don't understand how you're supposed to get your stuff home in the rain if plastic bags aren't allowed and you don't have a reusable bag with you. Unless of course you drive to the store, which is way worse for the environment than a few grams of plastic.

Some of my plastic bags are getting on 5 years. I know this because I picked them up while travelling, at stores that don't exist around here.

cans and recycling cans properly, thus allowing the plastic bags, etc., to blow all over the place when it's really windy out. If people were more careful, there wouldn't be such a problem.

Closing trash cans isn't the answer. The correct solution is to make sure all trash is in a tied plastic bag, not loose in the can.

Recycle bins are more of a problem since the contents are supposed to be loose. But plastic bags aren't allowed in recycle bins.

... beggars would ride.

They're typically re-used at a 60-70% rate

They're typically re-used one time and thrown away. That ain't quite the same thing my friend.

more than any other item

That's just foolish drivel.

Never mind the people who just get new, extra thick plastic bags from Star Market every time they go rather than bring them.

Every time? These people don't exist.

And the rise in food born illnesses from people not washing their bags.

Turns out this is extremely rare and easily combatted.

And having to buy thicker plastic bags for garbages at home that these are so useful for.

Don't make so much garbage. Seriously -- that's the whole point. Americans make so much more garbage than we used to, and much of it can be avoided with better choices. My household lives in a bag-ban community, and we have yet to purchase garbage bags from the store. There's still plenty of plastic bags around, and if you don't make so much trash, they get the job done.

Similar to the "strawless lids" that actually cause more plastic production, it's ineffective policy made for people who would rather feel good about something they don't understand,

You clearly don't understand the policy. It's not (solely) about total plastic pollution, in the ocean or otherwise. The policy is also about plastic bags no longer clogging storm drains causing the flooding of intersections. It's also about plastic bags no longer floating up into tree branches, getting stuck there. It's also about litter: in the same way the frequency that you'll see a Coke or Bud can on the ground is much less than an Arizona can or water bottle because of the deposit, you see fewer plastic bags as litter on the ground than you used to.

Ocean plastic is largely a problem of fishermen and lax trash handling standards in SE Asia.

Also wrong. Loads of plastic ends up in the ocean from weather (rainstorms, wind) bringing litter and poorly managed trash containers on land into the water. Some fraction of plastic on land will always make its way into the ocean. If we want less in the ocean, we've got to have less on land.

And, no surprise, tUSA is lagging the rest of the Western world (and Africa and Asia, btw) in phasing out plastic bags.

Plastic bags and dense housing development got us into this predicament to begin with.

While we can sue our reusable bags again, most stores don't know it is OK to resume reusable bag use, and continue to insist on using their paper/plastic bags.