retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Boston Globe reports that Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has signed into law a ban single use plastic bags there. The ban takes effect in one year, and makes Boston, according to the story, the 60th municipality in Massachusetts to take such an action; hundreds of cities across the country have banned single use bags.

The ban is designed to “encourage shoppers to use reusable bags or pay a 5 cent fee for either a thicker, compostable plastic bag or a larger paper bag with handles. Stores would collect the fees to help offset the cost of using more-expensive bags.”

Before signing the new law, Walsh had expressed concerns that “the city’s low-income residents and seniors would bear the financial brunt of the new rule,” but he decided that environmental issues were too great to ignore.

The Globe writes that “Walsh’s decision ends more than a year of debate over whether to eliminate disposable shopping bags and steer businesses and consumers toward reusable ones. The goal, supporters say, is to reduce litter and cut the amount of plastic in the environment.

“Opponents included representatives of the paper and plastic industries as well as critics who say the measure will amount to a tax on the poor. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts also opposed the ban.”

Meanwhile, the CBC reports that the city of Victoria, in British Columbia, will ban single use plastic bags beginning July 1, 2018, finally implementing an initiative that it began “mulling” in 2015.

The story says that lawmakers there “approved a bylaw which prohibits grocery stores from offering or selling plastic bags to shoppers. Stores can still offer paper bags or reusable bags for a cost if customers ask … Under the new ban, there will be exceptions. Stores can still offer plastic bags to package bulk items as well as for meat, prescriptions and dry cleaning.”

According to the CBC, “During consultations on the proposed ban, industry stakeholders — such as the Canadian Plastics Industry Association — said banning bags is a mistake. The association argued that plastic bags that wind up in landfills can be recycled. It also says plastic bags are used for multiple purposes such as garbage bags.

“In Vancouver, councillors are also moving toward reducing single-use items such as coffee cups, food containers and plastic bags.”
KC's View:
This movement continues to be a thing. It isn’t going away. And I tend to agree with the folks who believe that the environmental issues are important enough to continue down this road.