The City of Boston recently joined the growing list of municipalities across Massachusetts that have banned retailers from providing plastic bags to customers at checkout. Sixty two cities and towns statewide have now adopted some form of plastic bag ban.

The ordinance limits checkout bags provided by retailers to customers to reusable bags, recyclable paper bags, or compostable plastic bags. A reusable bag is defined as any bag with handles that is designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is either polyester, polypropylene, cotton or other durable material, or durable plastic that is at least 3.0 mils thick. Retailers must charge a minimum five cents ($0.05) per checkout bag provided, and the retailer shall keep all bag charge moneys collected. The charge must be separately stated on the sales receipt provided to the customer at the time of sale and shall be identified as the "checkout bag charge".

The ban applies to any establishment that sells or provides merchandise, goods or materials directly to a customer, including but not limited to restaurants, pharmacies, convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores, seasonal and temporary businesses, jewelry stores, and household goods stores.

The ordinance does include a number of exemptions to the bag ban including bags used for loose produce or other products used by a consumer to deliver items to the point of sale or check-out area, laundry or dry-cleaner bags, newspaper bags, and bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not, to prevent or contain moisture.

The ordinance becomes effective December 2018.