REQUEST TO SUSPEND LOCAL PLASTIC BAG BANS
In the wake of
the present state emergency declared by the Governor of Massachusetts due to
the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Food Association respectfully requests
a temporary suspension of all local Massachusetts city and state ordinances
that ban plastic bags to avoid the spread of the virus for the following
· Food store employees
may be exposed to the virus through packing customers’ reusable bags. Many cities and towns have banned plastic bags
to encourage the use of various types of reusable bags, but these bags could
potentially spread infectious diseases, particularly if the bags are used by those
who may be exposed, or are in homes with persons having COVID-19. It is recommended that all reusable bags
should be kept clean.
· There is an
increasing shortage of paper bags in stock in the past few weeks. Many supermarket suppliers get paper bags
from overseas, including China and other exposed suppliers who cannot keep up
with demand. The outbreak of COVID-19
has caused a “perfect storm” where the supply is low and the demand is high due
to increased shopping activity.
· Single-use plastic
bags provide the best and most hygienic method of carrying food and other perishable
items. As other food retailers such as Starbucks and
Dunkin Donuts take precautions to protect their employees from contamination by
limiting multiple use containers being brought back into the store, a temporary
lift of bans would protect employees and customers who do not want to be
exposed to personal items of others, including reusable bags brought from home.
· The request to
suspend communities’ plastic bag bans is temporary. While MFA has been developing legislation to
support a statewide plastic bag ban, time is of the essence to immediately
suspend any city or town rule that bans the use of single-use plastic
bags. Time is of the essence for cities
and towns to act to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, we respectfully
request that cities and towns support a temporary suspension of a city or town
plastic bag ban until the state of emergency is lifted in Massachusetts. This is an issue of critical importance to
limit the potential exposure, particularly for the employees in our industry and
their customers, to the COVID-19 virus.
Food Association represents the supermarket and grocery industry in
Massachusetts, including over 500 retail food store locations and the
non-retail food sector of the Commonwealth.