Plastic Bag Ban
Eliminating single-use plastic bags in Needham
In January 2017, Green Needham assembled a team to get Needham to join the then 64 other Massachusetts communities – including our neighbors Natick, Newton and Wellesley, and now Boston – in implementing a ban on single-use plastic bags.
In March 2018, as a result of these efforts, the Select Board unanimously adopted a policy requesting that stores over 3,500 square feet voluntarily discontinue the use of single-use plastic check-out bags on or before June 1st.
By July 2018, the stores covered under that policy – which includes Sudbury Farms, Roche Brothers, Trader Joe’s, CVS, Walgreens, Staples and Petco – all reported that they were in compliance. It is estimated that these retailers accounted for 90% of the single-use plastic bags distributed in Needham.
While this fell short of the simple outright ban supported by Green Needham, and advocated by most of the residents who spoke out at the February 27th 2018 public meeting, it is still a significant step forward for our community. Green Needham appreciates the work of the Board and thanks the community for its support.
Green Needham supports further efforts to reduce single-use plastic and plastic waste across the board. If you are interested in this topic and in being part of future efforts, please reach out to Rob Fernandez, Chair of our Plastic Bag Ban team, or Michael Greis, Chair of Green Needham.
Additional information on the scope and work of the project in 2017-18, and related topics resources, is below.
Background and Information from the Project
Secure passage of a Town By-Law eliminating single-use plastic checkout bags
- Work with the Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager to place a by-law on the warrant for the May 2018 Annual Town Meeting that would eiminate single-use plastic checkout bags
- Work with Needham’s retail businesses to understand and address their concerns about the elimination of single-use plastic bags; find and help implement solutions to those concerns
- Gain the support of other town boards and committees – Board of Health, Finance Committee, Economic Development Advisory Committee and others
- Advocate for and gain support from Town Meeting members to secure passage of the by-law at May 2018 Annual Town Meeting
March, 2018 – At its March 20th meeting, the Needham Select Board discussed and then unanimously adopted its proposed policy requesting that stores over 3,500 square feet voluntarily discontinue the use of single-use plastic check-out bags on or before June 1st.While this falls short of the simple outright ban supported by Green Needham, and advocated by most of the residents who spoke out at the February 27th public meeting, it is still a significant step forward for our community. Green Needham appreciates the work of the Board to this point and thanks the community for its support.
Please join us to build on our progress by thanking the merchants as they make this change and encouraging others to follow their lead.
Help residents and retailers embrace reusable bags and packaging for all their shopping – We don’t want to just get rid of something “bad” (single-use plastic bags), we want to make it possible and easy for everyone to embrace bringing and using “reusable” bags and packaging for all their shopping.
March, 2018 – Green Needham’s plastic bag ban team is working to select and customize a high-quality reusable bag to support residents and all merchants in their efforts to move away from single-use bags. We will provide funding – and will seek contributions and additional support – to buy and distribute a substantial quantity of bags within the community.We hope to do an initial distribution by partnering with merchants who told us during our research that they wanted to move away from single-use bags, and to expand from there. We also hope to reach out to the Community Council, Council on Aging and the Needham Housing Authority to make bags available to their clients.
- 2018-02-27 Event Video: Selectmen’s Hearing on Plastic Bag Ban
- 2018-03-20 Event Video: Select Board discussion and vote on single-use plastic bag policy
- 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.
What you can do:
- Remember your reusable bags when you shop!
- Let merchants know you support eliminating single-use plastic bags
- Once a proposed by-law is under discussion by Town Boards, let them know you support it.
- Once a by-law is on the Town Meeting warrant, let your Town Members know you support it.
If you would like to join the team or help this effort in any way, please contact Rob Fernandez, Green Needham’s team leader for the Plastic Bag Ban project.
- Draft Needham plastic bag bylaw for discussion
- H.4234 – An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution
- Natick Board of Health Regulation – Chapter 27
- Newton Plastic Bag Ordinance
- Plastic Bag Ban Infographic
- Plastic Bag Flyer – Created by Chris Thomas
- Plastic Check-out Bag Policy – Needham BoS
- SD 1104 Proposed Statewide Plastic Bag Ban
- Story of Wellesley Bag Ban
- Student Team’s Description of the Cause