Cambridge Mass. puts ban on plastic bags in order to get shoppers to bring reusable bags with them

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – The term BYOB has a new meaning in Cambridge. Starting Thursday, it stands for Bring Your Own Bag.

Plastic bags are banned and even paper bags will cost you. “Cambridge is going to be the largest city on the east coast to ban plastic bags,” says Mike Orr, the waste reduction program manager for the city of Cambridge. “It will also be one of the strongest ordinances in the United States.”

That’s because it doesn’t stop at banning plastic bags. It also requires stores to charge ten-cents for a paper bag, and that’s all stores. “All grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, convenience stores and clothing stores are going to fall under this ordinance,” Orr says.

The goal is obvious. They want to get shoppers to bring reusable bags with them. That cuts waste and reduces green house gas emission that are generated producing the bags.

“It is kind of a drag to bring the bags, but I think people will adjust,” says one Cambridge shopper.

There’s been plenty of opposition. Some people predict the ordinance will hurt businesses and add an expense for customers. “I don’t want to pay ten cents a bag. That’s why I got doubles today to stock up to keep them in my truck,” says another shopper.

Retailers get to keep every dime. But the three Whole Foods stores in Cambridge will donate the money they collect to a local organization called City Sprouts. “It’s a really great, local non-profit that helps provide sustainable school gardens in Cambridge and Boston,” says Matt Keller of Whole Foods.

Some shoppers may vote with their feet and head to stores in other communities, but that may not last long. “Some businesses claim that customers may go to Somerville for using plastic bags, but Somerville has a plastic bag ordinance going into effect in September,” says Orr.

There are a few exemptions to the Cambridge plastic bag ban, including produce bags and dry cleaner bags. You’ll still be able to get those.

For more details of the Cambridge ordinance:www.CambridgeMA.gov/BYOB

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