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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 6, 2021 03:41 PM
From: Representative Brian Sims
To: All House members
Subject: Paper and Plastic Bag Usage
Plastic bags are non-biodegradable, taking up to 1,000 years to decompose. That is a full millennium spent in landfills, blowing around our streets or in our oceans, killing marine life which then ingests the bags or gets caught in them. There are clear environmental costs to paper bags as well and manufacturing a paper bag requires about four times as much water as a plastic bag, not to mention the pollution stemming from the fertilizers and chemicals used in tree farming. To protect our environment for generations to come, it is time we find a way to move on from using plastic and paper bags. They are one piece of the puzzle of daily conveniences that are damaging our environment and contributing to climate change, which is one of the greatest threats to not only the Commonwealth, but our world.

To reduce the use of single use plastic bags and lead the Commonwealth in a strengthened effort to protect our environment for generations to come, I have been working with all relevant stakeholders to understand the most equitable and effective way to solve this issue. Specifically, how the fee proceeds would be distributed between businesses and environmental programs. This legislation will provide for a fee of fifteen cents on each non-reusable paper bag used by purchasers of consumer goods at retail establishments. The fees collected will be shared with retailers via a three-tiered system based on their business size, and small businesses will recoup 100% of the fee on these bags. The fees collected by the Commonwealth will fund the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program to conduct cleanup actions at sites where hazardous substances have been released.

Further, this legislation will ban retail establishments from supplying plastic bags to consumers at the point of sale. A violation of this section shall result in a penalty of:
(1) $50 for the first violation.
(2) $100 for a second violation.
(3) $200 for a third or subsequent violation.

I ask for your support of this legislation and in the effort to take another step forward in proactively protecting our environment and providing the resources to remediate environmental and health hazards.

Introduced as HB1382