Chamber News

July 13, 2020 Likes Comments

Confusion about plastic bags? You're not alone

UPDATE: In this morning’s email, I noted that in an order released Friday, the state’s Commissioner of Public Health Monica Bharel rescinded orders, effective immediately, that her office released on March 25 and April 7 related to grocery stores and pharmacies.
The March order listed eight restrictions. I’ve since received clarification from the state office of Housing and Economic Development clarifying that the first five of the eight items that Bharel was rescinding, are covered under retail sector guidelines issued on June 8.
What does that mean for your business? It means that even though Bharel rescinded orders banning salad bars, senior hours and other rules last week, those same rules are in place under the state's June 8 rules.
And what are the three items that Bharel rescinded that are now no longer regulated?
That would be items #6, 7 and 8 on the March 25 order, which covers:
  • No. 6. Banning BYO reusable shopping bags
  • No. 7. Overriding any local ordinance that bans plastic bags.
  • No. 8 Banning charging a bag fee
The above items are no long in effect, as of last Friday July 10.
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts had lobbied for a grace period to give retailers a chance to use up their stock of existing plastic bags, or a chance to stock back up on paper bags. But that didn’t happen.
So technically, stores in Newton, Watertown, Wellesely, Brookline and other municipalities where bag bans existed prior to March 25 should not be using plastic bags and should be charging fees today.
It’s now up to the 139 cities and towns in Massachusetts with bans on single-shopping bags to independently decide how to interpret this change.
We’ve heard from Mayor Fuller’s office that her department is working on a response.
Apologies for the confusion. But it is confusing.
Greg Reibman

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