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Plastic bag requirements set to resume in Boston

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Inspectional Services

Reusable bags are an important part of reducing waste and mitigating harmful effects on the environment.

The moratorium related to "A Temporary Executive Order Concerning Exemption of Certain Businesses from the City of Boston Plastic Bag Ordinance" will end on September 30, 2020. Effective October 1, the Inspectional Services Department’s Weights and Measures Division will resume enforcing the "Reduction of Checkout Bags by Retail Establishment" ordinance. 

  • Retail establishments must comply with all ordinance requirements: 
  • Supply compliant reusable, recyclable or compostable checkout bags 
  • Charge a fee (5 cents minimum per bag) 
  • Display a sign within five feet of the checkout location, telling customers that they will have to pay for a bag if they want one 
  • Reusable bags are allowed in Boston. Consumers are now able to use reusable bags if they would like to. 

Reusable bags:

As Boston’s economy began a safe, phased-in reopening this summer, Boston Public Health Commission officials incorporated reusable bag use into reopening guidelines for retail businesses. Businesses needing to use their existing inventory of plastic bags may apply to the Inspectional Services Department for a temporary exemption. Reusable bags are an important part of reducing waste and mitigating harmful effects on the environment. Detailed information about the Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance can be found on the City’s website, along with informational guides about compliant bags for retailers

In March 2020, Mayor Martin J. Walsh issued a temporary Executive Order allowing plastic bag use in Boston for certain businesses during the public health emergency of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Under the Executive Order, the City of Boston granted temporary exemptions to Boston's plastic bag ordinance, which had restricted plastic bag use in the City of Boston. 
Consumers can check the City’s trash app to review which materials they can recycle in their home recycling bin and review their respective collection schedule. You can learn more online about upcoming hazardous waste drop-off days and composting in the City. Consumers are reminded to clean and sanitize reusable bags after every use. 

If an establishment is found to be in violation of this ordinance ISD will issue a warning for the initial violation. If the same establishment is found to be in violation within the same calendar year a $50.00 fine will be issued. All additional violations within a calendar year will result in a $100.00 fine.