Opinions Mixed on Materials Bans in Mass.

Nov 21, 2012

As more communities in the Commonwealth are placing bans on things like plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, some are calling for more action, while others say it’s creating more headaches. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Last week Brookline, Massachusetts became the second community in the Commonwealth to ban plastic shopping bags – the second after Nantucket did so over 20 years ago. And this week, Amherst joined Brookline, and other communities in Massachusetts including Great Barrington, to ban Styrofoam containers – including coffee cups and take-out boxes.

Jesse Mermell, who serves on Brookline’s selectboard, says that the bans enjoyed popular support among the public and business community.

Mermell said that before the ban will take effect in December of next year, the town will work with the business community to make sure they’re ready for the transition.

And groups like the Sierra Club are applauding towns like Brookline and Amherst on their work to ban the materials, saying that anything that can be done to reduce waste in the natural environment is important. Spokesman Phil Sego says that he says while the action is occurring at the local level, he’d like to see the bans taken to the state level.

The Sierra Club said the Brookline law was based on legislation they advocated for proposed by Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Rep. Frank Smizik and Sen. Jamie Eldridge.

But not all are cheering on the news. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts says that as more communities across the Commonwealth place their own local bans and restrictions on materials, it creates a headache for businesses with stores in multiple locations. Ryan Kierny, General Counsel of RAM explains….

Kierny said that bans on plastic bags in particular would limit consumer choice.

But even before a statewide ban on plastic bags or Styrofoam is approved, Phil Sego of the Sierra Club says that the actions on the local level are steps in the right direction for protecting the environment.

Amherst’s ban on Styrofoam containers will take effect in 2014.