Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said this week that she will sign an executive order prohibiting state agencies from buying single-use plastic bottles.
Massachusetts is expected to be the first state in the country to achieve a law-enforced ban on purchasing plastic bottles. In recent years, legislators have attempted to make similar bans without success. Healey made the announcement on Sept. 18, 2023, at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City before a panel on ocean conservation practices.
“We know that plastic waste, plastic production are among the leading threats to our oceans, our climate, and environmental justice,” Healey said at the event. “In government, we have an obligation — we also have an opportunity — to not only stop contributing to this damage, but to chart a better path forward.”
Plastic pollution has been identified as a major threat to ocean ecosystems, food systems, and human health, and plastic waste production has continued to grow in recent years. According to OfficeH20, more than 17 million barrels of oil are needed just to produce enough bottles to meet the United States’ current demand, then once produced, plastic water bottles do not biodegrade and it is believed that plastic can last in the environment for up to 1,000 years.
In 2022, the United Nations agreed on a resolution to end plastic pollution and encouraged governments to engage in legally binding approaches for tackling the issue. Many bans that have already been implemented, such as those placed on plastic bags, have found success. For example, California’s ban on thin plastic bags reduced the state’s overall consumption by over 70%.
Worldwide Plastic Legislation: Potential Cost Savings Come With Environmental Benefits
Not only is reducing plastic production and waste essential to climate change mitigation, it can save billions for countries and companies worldwide. The UNEP estimates that the economic costs of plastic pollution range from $300 to $600 billion a year. If widespread legislation can be passed towards reducing plastic waste and implementing sustainable technologies, plastic pollution can be reduced by 80% by 2040.
Healey will reportedly sign an executive order this week, enacting the plastic procurement ban, along with an additional order that will establish biodiversity targets for state agencies.
“In our coastal state, we know climate change is our biggest threat. We also believe that taking action is our greatest opportunity, an opportunity to secure a safe, prosperous, and sustainable future,” she said.