Over a dozen community and environmental groups have joined forces to form Plastic Free Mass, a new coalition dedicated to ending the use of polluting plastic. The group will push for new policies to protect our Commonwealth’s residents and natural resources by ending our plastic addiction and moving us toward a cleaner future.
The data couldn’t be clearer. Nearly 40% of the plastic produced annually is for single-use plastics and packaging. Very little plastic – between 5-6% in the United States – is actually recycled. Plastic is toxic and polluting at every stage of its lifecycle – from extraction and manufacturing, to use, recycling, and disposal. Many single-use plastics can be easily reduced, redesigned for reuse, or replaced with nontoxic alternatives.
“The Friends of the Malden River have sponsored many cleanups around and in the Malden River. The Malden River, a typical urban river, is inundated with plastic pollution due to its physical connection with the city’s stormwater system. Volunteers have removed thousands of single use plastic items and pounds of degraded polystyrene from the waterway. It is distressing. We have witnessed the contamination of the collected recycling at our local single stream recycling system. Typically, over 65% of Malden’s collected recyclables are contaminated with plastic bags, household waste, and nonrecyclable plastics and metals. This contaminated recycling is incinerated at the Wheelabrator Saugus Plant. The Plastic Blight needs to end with state legislation and public awareness, “ said Karen Buck, Friends of Malden River.
Accordingly, we support legislation, policies, and programs that: phase out and avoid the production and use of any unnecessary single-use plastics, reduce and eliminate plastic packaging whenever possible, and modernize our state’s beverage container deposit system to include reuse and refill targets.
The members of Plastic Free Mass include Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Berkshire Zero Waste Initiative, Beyond Plastics, Clean Water Action, Conservation Law Foundation, Container Recycling Institute, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Friends of the Malden River, Just Zero, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, MetroWest Climate Solutions, Mothers Out Front, Oceana, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, Seaside Sustainability, Slingshot, and Story of Stuff.
“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is an environmental leader in so many ways, so it’s particularly disappointing to see us fall behind in the area of solid waste. For example, our state is one of the only states in New England without a statewide plastic bag ban, and our bottle bill has one of the lowest redemption rates in the country. We must move quickly and decisively to remedy these shortcomings or we risk falling even further behind in the fight to curb the climate crisis, “ said Kirstie Pecci, Executive Director, Just Zero
Mara Shulman, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation added, “It’s time to finally address the plastics crisis in Massachusetts. From modernizing our antiquated beverage container deposit system, to banning single-use plastic bags at checkout, to making producers of plastic packaging responsible for reducing packaging and managing plastic waste at its end of life, there are several pending bills that will take us in the right direction. We stand with our elected officials and pledge to keep up the momentum because there is no time to waste in taking a bite out of waste.”