On June 20, the Senate passed a bill intended to reduce plastics pollution and waste statewide, including a statewide plastic bag ban, a provision long supported by the MMA.

Many municipalities across Massachusetts have adopted local plastic bag bans as a means of encouraging consumers to bring their own reusable bags, purchase reusable or recycled paper bags, or forgo bags altogether, thereby reducing waste. Plastic bags routinely clog sorting equipment at recycling facilities, causing costly delays and hazardous conditions for employees. Efforts to raise awareness about whether plastic bags can be recycled in municipal collections are expensive and time-consuming for municipalities.

The Senate bill (S. 2833) would also prohibit state agencies from procuring single-use plastic bottles and create a statewide recycling program for bulky plastic materials, including child car seats.

The bill includes an MMA legislative proposal that would require producers of non-flushable wipes to clearly label their products as “non-flushable” and create a campaign to raise awareness. When flushed, these products have been causing costly clogs and sanitary sewer overflows and fouling pumps — issues that cost approximately $10 million annually to address statewide. The MMA testified in support of this policy last fall, stressing the cost-saving potential for municipalities and water treatment facilities, as well as the opportunity to protect public health and the environment.

The Senate considered 26 amendments to the bill, including ones to establish a statewide stewardship program to support the recycling of paint waste, like cost-saving programs now operating in 12 other states, including most of New England. The paint stewardship amendments, however, were not adopted.

The Senate did approve an amendment to ban food establishments from using black plastic, polystyrene foam, and solid polystyrene food service wares.

A separate clean energy bill passed by the Senate in late June included a provision, supported by the MMA and municipalities, to update the bottle bill by expanding the list of eligible products and raising the deposit from 5 cents to 10.

The Senate’s plastics bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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