Gov. Maura Healey announced Monday that state agencies will no longer be allowed to purchase single-use plastic bottles. She said the order will make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to enact such a procurement ban.
“We know that plastic waste, plastic production are among the leading threats to our oceans, our climate and environmental justice,” Healey said in her keynote remarks during the Clinton Global Initiative. The event was part of Climate Week NYC, the annual summit hosted by the international nonprofit, The Climate Group.
Her announcement came just one day after thousands of climate activists and protesters marched in New York City Sunday to demand the Biden administration move the U.S. away from the use of fossil fuels.
Plastic waste contributes to pollution and microplastics contamination. It also increases carbon emissions, as plastic is made of fossil fuels.
Concord, Mass., was the first municipality in the U.S. to ban the sale of plastic bottles in its town stores, back in 2012. Today, several other towns and cities in the state have adopted similar bans. Healey's order wouldn't go as far as the town bans, but would instead prohibit state agencies from purchasing single-use plastic bottles.
“Single-use plastics are a scourge on our environment and our communities,” said Mara Shulman, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation. “These products hasten the climate crisis and endanger the health of people and wildlife. Governor Healey’s ban is a great step towards making Massachusetts a leader in fighting the plastics crisis.”
Healey also announced a separate order to establish biodiversity conservation targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050, and require state agencies to develop strategies to meet them. A state spokesperson said Healey plans to issue this and the state agency plastic ban order on Thursday.
Scientists estimate that one million species are at risk of extinction worldwide. In Massachusetts, 432 species are on the state’s list of endangered, threatened or of special concern, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which fewer than 350 remain.
“These biodiversity protections will be the strongest in the nation,” Healey said in her speech Monday, adding the measures will be more aggressive than the United Nations goal to protect 30% of land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030.
The governor added that the protections will extend to coastal habitats, such as salt marshes, which provide places for diverse organisms to live, carbon sequestration and protection against storm impacts.