Give Massachusetts a Break, No New Bag Bans. A Small Business Owners’ Perspective
Amid an unsteady economy, small business owners like me have a lot on our plates: keeping shelves stocked, prices affordable and meeting consumer expectations. Over the years, that increasingly also means focusing on sustainability.
As proof in the Commonwealth, look no further than the more than 150 local regulations on plastic carryout bags. It seems like every local official wanted to showcase their own concern about plastic waste. But the result is a headache-causing patchwork of differing standards of fees, allowable types of bags and stores that are covered.
To be clear, I don’t like plastic waste. I don’t know anyone who does. But I still see the value in affordable and convenient bags and worry that new proposals for a statewide approach could undermine sustainability goals, hurt small businesses, and raise costs for struggling families in the process.
Recently, at the state and local level there’s been an increasing focus on requiring carryout bags to have stitched handles. As a store owner, I have to say this doesn’t make sense.
These stitched products are more expensive. They are still made from plastic, imported from some of the world’s worst polluting countries, and cannot be recycled in the Northeast. That doesn’t sound like sustainability to me.
Instead, if there’s going to be a single solution, it should follow what my community and the majority have others have done: promote durability in reusable bags standards.
For most localities in Massachusetts with a bag ordinance, they allow stores like mine to offer American made, reusable, recyclable options. This is the same approach that most state bag laws – including California, Connecticut, and Maine – follow.
Rewriting local rules to favor nonrecyclable and foreign-made bags with isn’t sustainable when there are better, recyclable options available for stores like mine: the one’s we are already using.