September 13, 2023 (BOSTON, MA) – Over a dozen community and environmental groups have joined forces to form Plastic Free Mass, a new coalition dedicated to ending the use of polluting plastic. The group will push for new policies to protect our Commonwealth’s residents and natural resources by ending our plastic addiction and moving us toward a cleaner future.
The data couldn’t be clearer. Nearly 40% of the plastic produced annually is for single-use plastics and packaging. Very little plastic – between 5-6% in the United States – is actually recycled. Plastic is toxic and polluting at every stage of its lifecycle – from extraction and manufacturing, to use, recycling, and disposal. Many single-use plastics can be easily reduced, redesigned for reuse, or replaced with nontoxic alternatives.
Accordingly, we support legislation, policies, and programs that: phase out and avoid the production and use of any unnecessary single-use plastics, reduce and eliminate plastic packaging whenever possible, and modernize our state’s beverage container deposit system to include reuse and refill targets.
The members of Plastic Free Mass include Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Berkshire Zero Waste Initiative, Beyond Plastics, Clean Water Action, Conservation Law Foundation, Container Recycling Institute, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Friends of the Malden River, Just Zero, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, MetroWest Climate Solutions, Mothers Out Front, Oceana, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, Seaside Sustainability, Slingshot, and Story of Stuff.
Experts are available for further comment.
“We cannot burn, bury, or recycle our way out of the plastics crisis. We need realistic, forward-moving change targeted at the root of the problem, not band-aids at the tail end of the problem. As the Senate lead filer of the Plastics Reduction Act and the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources, plastics reduction is one of my top priorities. I am proud to be deep in this collaborative work alongside Plastic Free Mass, many legislative colleagues, and climate activists in my district.”
State Senator Becca Rausch
“I’m so excited to celebrate the launch of Plastic Free Mass and to support them as they continue raising public awareness for the urgent need for significant legislative action to reduce plastics in our state. We need change now, and with this coalition of national, state, and local partners joining in the fight with one voice, I’m optimistic about the progress we can make together to protect our Commonwealth.”
State Senator Jason Lewis.
“It’s time to finally address the plastics crisis in Massachusetts. From modernizing our antiquated beverage container deposit system, to banning single-use plastic bags at checkout, to making producers of plastic packaging responsible for reducing packaging and managing plastic waste at its end of life, there are several pending bills that will take us in the right direction. We stand with our elected officials and pledge to keep up the momentum because there is no time to waste in taking a bite out of waste.”
Mara Shulman, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation
“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is an environmental leader in so many ways, so it’s particularly disappointing to see us fall behind in the area of solid waste. For example, our state is one of the only states in New England without a statewide plastic bag ban, and our bottle bill has one of the lowest redemption rates in the country. We must move quickly and decisively to remedy these shortcomings or we risk falling even further behind in the fight to curb the climate crisis.”
Kirstie Pecci, Executive Director, Just Zero
“Reducing our plastic waste stream advances Massachusetts toward a safer and healthier economy and grows a green economy that creates quality jobs.”
Jeanne Krieger, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts
“Plastic pollution is a human health, environmental, and ecological crisis. 40 percent of all plastic is used only once. Massachusetts needs to do the right thing for the climate and at the same time save municipalities money by regulating plastic waste. Recycling plastic is a false solution to the plastic crisis. We need strong bills to reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in Massachusetts. It’s past time to expand the bottle bill, and ban plastic shopping bags and other unnecessary single-use plastics.”
Eileen Ryan, Leader, Beyond Plastics Greater Boston
“Plastic is contaminating the ocean, altering the base of the food chain, and worsening the climate and waste crises. And plastic production requires the use of toxic chemicals that dare linked to rising rates of serious illnesses. Since the 1970s, there has been a marked increase in the incidence of cancer, neurodevelopmental disease and reproductive disorders. Bisphenols, phthlates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals harm communities where plastics are made, and they leach out of products during production and disposal. Reducing the production and use of plastic is, among other things, an illness prevention strategy.”
Laura Sparks, Clean Water Action
“We owe our children and future generations a livable world with drinkable water, breathable air, uncontaminated land, and unspoiled natural spaces. One important step we can take toward that end is to transition away from the use of noxious plastics whenever possible and to move to systems that encourage reuse.”
Barb Heffner, Facilitator, MetroWest Climate Solutions
“The plastic crisis has no bounds, every day brings new knowledge about the damage plastic is causing the health and vitality of ecosystems that support life — we urgently need solutions commensurate with the scale of the plastics crisis. The good news for Massachusetts is that there are tried and tested strategies centering waste reduction and reuse that can create jobs, unburden taxpayers and secure a more pristine future for the state and its residents. Let’s work together to make that vision a reality.”
Sam Pearse, Lead Campaigner, The Story of Stuff Project
“Massachusetts can be a leader in the plastic pollution crisis. Plastics are polluting our oceans, harming marine wildlife, and devastating ecosystems. We must stop the problem at its source by reducing the amount of plastic we create, use, and throw away. Recent statewide polling by Oceana reveals that the vast majority (89%) of voters in Massachusetts are concerned about single-use plastic and support state and local policies to reduce it. The people of Massachusetts want less single-use plastic and our elected officials should make it so.”
Nancy Downes, Field Campaign Manager, Oceana
“Addressing solid waste, and the plastics in the waste stream, is critical for Massachusetts and for our cities and towns. Not only will the bills introduced this session save municipalities money but they will help us achieve the greenhouse gas targets set by the legislature, improve public health through reducing reliance on waste combustors located in EJ communities and build local markets for our recyclables. The time to act is now.”
Leah Robins, Director of Government Affairs, Metropolitan Area Planning Council
“The Friends of the Malden River have sponsored many cleanups around and in the Malden River. The Malden River, a typical urban river, is inundated with plastic pollution due to its physical connection with the city’s stormwater system. Volunteers have removed thousands of single use plastic items and pounds of degraded polystyrene from the waterway. It is distressing. We have witnessed the contamination of the collected recycling at our local single stream recycling system. Typically, over 65% of Malden’s collected recyclables are contaminated with plastic bags, household waste, and nonrecyclable plastics and metals. This contaminated recycling is incinerated at the Wheelabrator Saugus Plant. The Plastic Blight needs to end with state legislation and public awareness.”
Karen Buck, Friends of Malden River