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Boston City Council Votes To Ban Plastic Bags

The measure would ban single-use plastic bags in Boston, and have businesses charge a 5-cent fee for thicker plastic bags. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
The measure would ban single-use plastic bags in Boston, and have businesses charge a 5-cent fee for thicker plastic bags. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With a unanimous 12-0 vote, the Boston City Council on Wednesday approved a ban on thin, single-use plastic bags.

For customers who don't bring their own bags, the measure would have businesses charge them a 5-cent fee for thicker plastic bags and simple paper bags. Businesses would keep the proceeds of the 5-cent fee.

Proponents say bag bans reduce fossil fuels from manufacturing and cut down on waste, while opponents say the bans create a new consumer tax, or drive people to shop online.

The measure now goes to Mayor Marty Walsh, who would need to approve it as well. Walsh's office said Wednesday that the mayor is reviewing the proposal.

A similar ordinance was debated by the city council last year but Walsh's administration said then it did not support the proposal.

The measure that passed Wednesday was proposed by West Roxbury Councilor Matt O'Malley and Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu.

"[Plastic bags'] convenience does not outweigh the significant costs associated with them," O'Malley said at Wednesday's council meeting, per Universal Hub.

Ayanna Pressley, another at-large-councilor, says if the mayor approves the measure, she hopes the city will take steps to address how the policy may affect low-income residents and seniors.

"I'd encourage the city of Boston to explore ways to ease the burden of what will really require a cultural shift," she said.

Dozens of other communities in Massachusetts, including Cambridge and Brookline, have similar single-use plastic bans in effect.

With reporting by WBUR's Benjamin Swasey and the Newscast Unit

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