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Mass. Lawmakers Target Plastic Bags

BOSTON — Non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags may soon be history in Massachusetts.

Plastic bag opponents say the products are made of materials that damage the environment. On Wednesday, Brookline residents overwhelmingly approved a ban on the bags in a town meeting. Nantucket, the only other Massachusetts community with a ban, outlawed plastic bags in 1990.

State Rep. Lori Ehrlich, co-sponsor of a bill that would take that ban statewide, hopes the Brookline vote will build “momentum” for the cause.

“It’s time we move on from that mindset where everything is just single-use and disposable,” Ehrlich said. “Even if it’s used a second time, it still has a severe, and growing, impact on the world.”

No state has banned the bags outright, though many have restrictions on them. Ehrlich says the proposed Massachusetts legislation could be a model for similar measures nationwide.

Representative of state retailers and the food industry say the bags’ dangers are overstated and solutions to replace them come with their own problems. They said people also like the bags because they’re convenient, cheap, waterproof and durable and want to keep using them.

“Consumers like choice, and most consumers don’t like being told by someone else what’s best for them,” said Bill Rennie, vice president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

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