Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey signed an anticipated executive order Thursday barring state executive offices and agencies from buying single-use plastic bottles, “in favor of less harmful alternatives,” effective immediately. Healey previewed the action, described as the first in the nation, earlier this week as part of a slate of climate measures announced in conjunction with Climate Week in New York City.
Massachusetts is leading the climate fight.— Maura Healey (@MassGovernor) September 21, 2023
I announced two nation-leading executive actions at @ClintonGlobal’s annual meeting because the entire world should know that.
But that leadership wouldn’t be possible without the advocates, experts, researchers, and educators… pic.twitter.com/EQmJb31e34
The executive order cites harm from plastic bottles’ fossil fuel roots and problems with coastal pollution. It states that “purchasing single-use plastic bottles instead of utilizing less harmful alternatives is inconsistent with the Healey-Driscoll administration’s climate policy.”
The ban could equate to 100,000 fewer bottles per year, the amount Massachusetts agencies typically buy annually, the Boston Globe reported. The restriction applies to beverages in a sealed rigid plastic bottle of 21 fluid ounces or less. A standard single-use plastic water bottle is approximately 16.9 fluid ounces. There are exceptions in cases of emergencies or where the order would conflict with existing contracts.
By the end of this year, all executive offices and agencies will have to report steps they’ve taken to stop using state funds to buy single-use plastic bottles and reduce the sale or resale of such bottles at state properties. The executive order also encourages quasi-public authorities and boards to adopt their own plans to cease the purchase and sale of single-use plastic bottles.
Some federal lawmakers and environmental advocates have also sought to flex government purchasing power with single-use plastic product bans on public lands like national parks.
Prior to Healey taking office this year, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection implemented disposal bans on textiles, mattresses and commercial food waste.
Numerous local and national environmental groups joined forces this month to form Plastic Free Mass, a new coalition working to end the use of polluting plastic.
In light of Thursday’s executive order, some environmental advocates have also called for further action in the Massachusetts legislature, which remains in session, this year. Oceana has supported state bills seeking to prevent plastic bags from entering the environment and “skip the stuff” at restaurants.
The group praised Healey’s bottle ban action in a statement. “We encourage the federal government and other states to follow Gov. Healey’s lead and stop purchasing unnecessary single-use plastic,” said Christy Leavitt, plastics campaign director at Oceana.
MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz said in a statement that Massachusetts could greatly increase the impact of this single-use plastic action if it were to pass policies pending in committee, including banning polystyrene, banning single-use plastic bags, updating the bottle bill and establishing producer responsibility laws.