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Maine, Vermont Pass Laws Restricting Single-Use Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are tangled in the branches of a tree in New York City's East Village neighborhood. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Plastic bags are tangled in the branches of a tree in New York City's East Village neighborhood. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Maine and Vermont on Monday became the third and fourth states to pass laws restricting single-use plastic grocery bags, and advocates for similar legislation here are calling for Massachusetts to follow suit.

"The bill to restrict single use plastic bags has been pending in Massachusetts for more than a decade," MASSPIRG executive director Janet Domenitz said in a statement. "It's time to line up next to our neighbors and pass this bill, filed by Rep. Lori Ehrlich and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and reduce the plastic pollution that plagues our beaches, our playgrounds, our public works, our parks, and our environment."

According to MASSPIRG, 1 percent of the billions of plastic bags used each year in America are recycled, and the bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.

More than 95 cities and towns in Massachusetts have adopted some sort of bag ban at the local level. Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Lori Ehrlich's bill (H. 771, S. 462) would take that policy statewide, prohibiting stores from providing customers a single-use carryout bag at the point of sale, beginning Aug. 1.

Stores would need to make recycled paper bags available for a charge of 10 cents and could sell reusable bags to customers for at least 10 cents.

The Maine bill institutes a 5-cent fee on shopping bags, and the Vermont bill carries a 10 cent fee, according to MASSPIRG, which said another bag bill has passed the Connecticut Legislature and is on Gov. Ned Lamont's desk.

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