State agencies in Massachusetts will no longer be allowed to buy single-use plastic bottles, Gov. Maura Healey said Monday, making the state the first to enact such a ban in a push to protect local endangered species and limit ocean pollution in the coastal state.
Healey was giving a keynote address at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York Monday when she announced Massachusetts would be the first state to adopt a procurement ban on single-use plastic bottles.
Healey also said she was directing all agencies to create biodiversity conservation goals through 2050 and while she didn’t elaborate much other than to say plans include stemming the loss of salt marshes and protecting ocean habitats, she did say that the state’s goals will be more aggressive than the United Nations’ push to conserve 30% of the country’s land and water by 2030.
Massachusetts is already one of 10 states with so-called “bottle bills” that hit customers with a refundable surcharge when buying single-use containers—shoppers are charged an additional 5 cents per bottle and can be refunded if they return it to a recycling center.
The state is also home to the municipality of Concord, which was the first city in the country to flat out ban the sale of disposable plastic bottles 11 years ago—almost two dozen cities and towns in the state have since enacted some kind of restriction.
The Massachusetts Legislature has repeatedly failed to pass proposals banning single-use plastic on a state level.
“These biodiversity protections will be the strongest in the nation,” Healey said Monday.
Healey gave the speech Monday as part of Climate Week NYC, an annual summit hosted by The Climate Group nonprofit. Thousands of people took to the streets of New York Sunday, the first day of the event, in a march that called for President Joe Biden to stop federal approvals of new fossil fuel projects and end drilling for oil and gas on government-owned land. Protestors also want Biden to declare climate change a national emergency while ending the country’s oil and gas exports. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will host a Climate Ambition Summit in New York Wednesday to pressure world leaders to cut emissions more rapidly. Biden does not plan to attend, per NPR. The Department of the Interior in June announced it will phase out the sale of single-use plastics on public lands by 2032, which will ban the sale, purchase and distribution. The department has been ordered to find sustainable alternatives made from compostable or biodegradable materials.
More than 1 billion single-use water bottles are sold every minute and that number is expected to double by 2030, according to CNN. The global bottled water market was estimated to be worth $260 billion in 2021, according to a United Nations University report, up 73% over the last decade. The United States was found to be the largest consumer of bottled water in 2021, followed by China, Indonesia, Canada and Australia. Single-use bottled beverages are harmful to the environment at all stages of production and consumption, experts say: Billions of gallons of water are wasted in a production process that also pollutes natural waterways and emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. Once consumed, 31% of plastic beverage bottles in America are recycled and the rest end up in landfills, as litter or in oceans, according to Atlantic.
1.4. That’s how many gallons of water it takes to produce one single-use beverage bottle.
More than a dozen states have preemptively prohibited local plastic pollution control ordinances, according to nonprofit PlasticBagLaws.org. Arkansas, Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Arizona are among the states that have made it illegal to pass local laws that restrict plastics use.
What To Watch For
Healey will issue executive orders on Thursday that will formalize the ban on water bottle purchases and the biodiversity goal orders. The single-use plastic ban will go into effect immediately.