Plastic Bag Ban Officially Goes Into Effect in Boston

The slow rollout of Boston’s plastic bag ban begins Friday and stores across the city are preparing.

The ban hits large-scale stores first, including Roche Brothers supermarket in West Roxbury where they have been stuffing bags with flyers about the ban for weeks.

Store manager Scott Cristi said the ban is being phased in at the busiest time of the year for supermarkets so their goal is making sure cashiers know how to explain it without slowing things down at the checkout.

“There’s going to be a lot training involved just to get cashiers used to interacting with the customers and talking with them about it,” Cristi said.

The hope is that customers will bring their own bags, but if shoppers forget, it will cost them. Under the ordinance, stores have to charge at least a nickel for each compostable or recyclable bag including paper ones.

Retailers can retain the fee, but Stop & Shop has decided to donate it to the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

Boston city councilor Matt O’Malley helped write the ordinance that passed unanimously. It gave stores a year to prepare. During that time, he and his team have helped hand out more than 7,000 free reusable bags. O’Malley was giving them out outside the Stop & Shop in Jamaica Plain Thursday.

“I’m really excited it’s going to start tomorrow. It feels like Christmas Eve for me,” O’Malley said.

While handing out the reusable bags, he explained to customers why Boston decided to join more than 80 other municipalities that have already banned them. He said it comes down to helping the environment.

“They live in landfills forever. They end up in the ocean and it’s really incumbent upon us to address it. By doing nothing, we are paying more for it,” O’Malley said.

Stores 20,000 square feet and larger have to get rid of plastic bags by Friday. Smaller stores have until later on next year. The city does plan on doing inspections to make sure the stores are complying.

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