Boston’s Plastic Bag Ban

Image courtesy of Patch

Boston is banning plastic shopping bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste in the city. The ban was passed last year after months of negotiations held by the city council. It finally comes into effect on Dec. 14. This is a critical time for sustainability initiatives to be made.

The World Health Organization and United Nations scientific panel recently released a environmental report last month that predicts many more climate-related disasters to come if changes aren’t made soon in the way we deal with pollution and waste.

But what does this ban mean for Boston shoppers? How can customers be prepared for the change?

Read the rules

Boston city officials have made a website that clearly maps out the rules for businesses to follow under this new ordinance. The website includes valuable information, such as that the ban will begin solely with retail stores larger than 20,000 square feet. Stores that are less than 20,000 square feet but larger than 10,000 square feet have until April 2019. The city insists that by summer, the ban will be in place for all retail stores in the Boston area.

More about these rules can be found here.

Bring reusable shopping bags everywhere

While the rule only applies to plastic shopping bags, recyclable paper bags and compostable bags are not guaranteed to be available. In fact, these bags will now cost people. The cost will only be around 5 cents per bag, but stores are not responsible to carry paper or compostable bags. The responsibility is now on the customer.

Using plastic bags past Dec. 14 is acceptable under some circumstances

Many restaurants and retail stores still have a large inventory of plastic bags that they are responsible for using up in the meantime. Additionally, if you receive a plastic bag after Dec. 14, it could be due to a ‘temporary exemption’. The city is allowing businesses who fit certain criteria to apply for a temporary exemption, which would allow them to continue to use plastic bags for a period of time. These criteria could be due to financial hardship or excess inventory. Businesses can apply for an exemption through the city’s website.

Ultimately, the ban will likely not impact shoppers too much. The positive environmental impact of the ban is expected to be far greater than the inconvenience that the cost may be to shoppers.