polystyrene takeout containerWith strong support from Town Meeting members, Green Needham’s Plastics Reduction Team made good progress this May toward their goal of reducing the amount of single-use plastics in Needham.  In a decisive vote of approval for Green Needham’s Citizens’ Petition, Town Meeting adopted the ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers, plastic stirrers and plastic splash guards. In addition, plastic straws may be given to consumers only upon request.  Restaurants and food establishments will no longer be able to automatically include straws in beverages or with take-out orders. These bans will take place starting January 1, 2025, and will go a long way to decreasing single-use plastic waste in Needham.  None of these items are recyclable, and sustainable alternatives are readily available for all of them. 

Additionally, a previously passed plastic bag ban will have expanded implementation this summer.  Starting July 1, 2024, all retailers in Needham will be prohibited from offering single-use plastic bags at checkout.  The plastic bag ban was passed by Town Meeting in May 2023, and initially went into effect for larger retailers (3500 sq. ft. and above) on January 1, 2024.  It will now expand to smaller businesses in town.  Remember to bring your reusable bags every time you shop local! 

At the State level, Green Needham is thrilled to support our own Senator, Becca Rausch, who introduced An Act to Reduce Plastics, S.2833. This act, which passed in the Senate on June 20th and is now being considered by the House:

  • Bans plastic carryout bags and requires retailers, with limited exceptions, to charge for paper carryout bags
  • Makes disposable food serviceware, including plastic utensils and straws, available upon request only – (commonly known as “Skip the Stuff”)
  • Prohibits State Agencies from buying plastic bottles less than 21 ounces
  • Directs the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a statewide program for recycling bulk plastic materials
  • Requires premoistened disposable wipes with petrochemical-based fibers to be labeled “Do Not Flush.”
  • Establishes a legislative commission to develop a proposal for an EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) plan for Massachusetts.

If the Act to Reduce Plastics does not pass at the State level, the Green Needham Plastics Reduction Team is ready to promote a “Skip the Stuff” program locally. Supported by the Charles River Regional Chamber, Skip the Stuff prohibits food establishments from automatically including plastic utensils, condiments, napkins, etc. with take-out and delivery orders. (Patrons could still request these items if they would like them to be included.)

The Plastics Reduction Team is also working on a “Needham on Tap” map.  This map will allow residents and visitors to easily locate water fountains and bottle fillers around town, making it simple to refill a reusable water bottle on those hot summer days or during a sporting event.

Plastic Free July will be kicking off shortly. Join millions of people who are concerned about the impact of plastic production and disposal by taking the challenge and learning about ways to reduce individual plastic consumption.

Are you interested in increasing your impact on reducing single-use plastics? Join us to make a difference and reduce additional single-use plastic waste in Needham!  Complete the Volunteer form at the bottom of our webpage to join our mailing list.

Submitted by Kathy Raiz.

Progress on Reducing Plastics in Needham
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