Plastic Bag Ban

Banning single-use plastic bags in Needham

Needham has an opportunity to join about 30 other Massachusetts communities, including our neighbors Newton and Wellesley, in implementing a ban on single-use plastic bags. This effort was initiated by a team of seniors last year as a capstone project for the Greater Boston Project, a double-credit interdisciplinary elective at Needham High School.

PBB slash graphicThe team was led by Chris Thomas and several other students who were so committed to the project that they continued work past their June graduation. In addition to contacting Green Needham, they met with individuals, groups, businesses and town officials in Needham and in nearby communities. They did extensive research to address questions and concerns raised by the stakeholders they talked to. They gathered signatures of support online and in person (including many who stopped by the Green Needham table during two Street Fair events in the last year). The students did a thorough job of research and built a persuasive case.

Their advocacy contributed to the addition of a new item to the Selectmen’s Annual Goals, adopted in August, 2016. Goal #4, Expand energy efficient and environmentally sound operations for the Town and its residents and businesses, includes a new initiative to “Explore the option of limiting the use of plastic bags at certain retail establishments.”

In December, 2016, the team delivered a report and draft by-law to the Selectman with the goal of having the Selectmen place an article on the 2017 May Annual Town Meeting warrant. Green Needham is pleased to lend our support and energy to this very worthwhile project. We assembled a team to work on this project.

Although the timeline for May Town meeting was short, the team committed to:

  • identify and provide informational support to individuals and groups who wish to contact the Selectmen and encourage them to vote to support the warrant article at the May Annual Town Meeting. We did not want to overwhelm the Selectmen with generic e-mails. Individual outreach from residents and organizations communicating their support in their own words is much more effective (and respectful of everyone’s time).
  • reach out and engage with Town Meeting members to educate, inform and answer questions in advance of Town Meeting, should the Selectmen vote to put the article on the May 2017 warrant.
  • work with the Selectmen and town staff to bring a by-law proposal to Town Meeting in either November of 2017 or May 2018, should the Selectmen not be prepared to put the article on the May 2017 warrant.

The timeline was short for the Selectmen as well, since the May Town Meeting warrant is finalized in February. The Town Manager and Selectmen did not feel they could get agreement on language for a by-law and among the stakeholders in time to be debated on voted on in May 2017. The team will now work with them to get that work done for an upcoming Town Meeting.

If you would like to help this effort in any way, please contact Rob Fernandez.

More information and resources on the Plastic Bag Ban is available on these pages. We will add additional information, including an FAQ page, as we move forward.

  • Resources
    Selected documents and links about single-use plastic bags and plastic bag bans in Massachusetts.
  • Why a plastic bag ban?
    Explains why plastic bags are a problem, the benefits of banning plastic bags and the original proposal developed by the student team.
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