Update: Massachusetts Plastic Bag Ordinances

By: Josh Kizler  

The State of Massachusetts

On January 20, 2011 Massachusetts Representative (D) Frank I. Smizik of Brookline filed House Bill1159 (H01159), which would amend current Massachusetts law to require that the only disposable carryout plastic bags provided to customers be compostable plastic bags. The bill is co-sponsored by Massachusetts Senator (D) James B. Eldridge of Acton, who also filed a separate version of the bill in the senate. On January 24, 2011, the Senate concurred on H01159 and referred it to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. There is still no date scheduled for the Joint Committee to hear the bill (though there is hope that this will happen in the next few months).

For text of the House bill see:

http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H01159 under “Bill Text”.

If the bill receives a favorable outcome in the Joint Committee, it will likely need to pass through one or more additional committees before returning to the House and Senate for passage.


Local plastic bag ordinances

Ordinances in Somerville, Sturbridge, and Plymouth counties have been unsuccessful. In Plymouth, the proposed ordinance did not pass the Finance Board or the Board of Selectmen and thus never making it to a town meeting for discussion.



On April 25, 2007, Counselor Rob Consalvo of Boston filed an “Order for a Hearing to Discuss Eradicating, Recycling or Replacing Environmentally Unfriendly Plastic Shopping Bags in Boston.”

For text of the Order see:


Recently, talks have been revamped between Counselor Consalvo and Boston’s Environmental Department and local community groups to discuss the next steps for such an order. Counselor Consalvo is open to various options regarding the issue and would like proceed in whichever manner provides the most benefit to the City of Boston.


Contact information

Massachusetts Representative (Brookline) D- Frank I. Smizik          617.722.2676

Massachusetts Senator (Acton) D- James B. Eldridge                       617.722.1089

Boston Counselor Rob Consalvo                                                        617.635.4210