Review of Plastic Bag Regulation in 2023

by Clint Richmond, Conservation Chair

As of the end of the 2023, there were 162 cities and towns with bag regulations representing almost 70% of the state's population. The list can be found on the chapter's main plastic bag web page. Only four towns passed by-laws this year at Town Meeting partly due to the fact that most of the communities with grocery, pharmacies, and big box stores have already passed them, and partly due to the expectation that the state will soon pass a strong bill with a nominal fee on paper bags to reduce over-consumption. Only cities have the power to charge a fee on paper check-out bags. In an unprecedented development in 2023, four towns filed home rule petitions with the Legislature in order to be able add a fee on paper bags (Concord, Fairhaven, Lincoln, Sudbury).

Map of communities with plastic bag regulation

The four largest cities without bag regulation are:

  • Brockton
  • New Bedford
  • Fall River
  • Lawrence

We hope that these communities will initiate efforts to regulate bags in the near future. Please contact the Sierra Club if you would like us to assist in efforts in your community.

This map and other legislative actions over the last eleven years demonstrate consistent and overwhelming support for sustainable bag regulation across the state. We urge the General Court to pass bag regulation this session.