April 2, 2019

The Honorable Anne Gobi, Senate Chairwoman

Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

State House Room 513, Boston, MA 02133

The Honorable William Pignatelli, House Chairman

Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

State House Room 473F, Boston, MA 02133

RE: Support of H.771/S.462 An Act reducing plastic bag pollution

Dear Chairwoman Gobi, Chairman Pignatelli, and Honorable Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the Connecticut River Conservancy, I write to urge enactment of H.771/S.462, An Act reducing plastic bag pollution.  The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) is a nonprofit citizen group established in 1952 to advocate for the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the Connecticut River and its four-state watershed.  Before April of 2017, we were known as the Connecticut River Watershed Council.

For the last 22 years, CRC/CRWC has been organizing a watershed-wide river cleanup known as the CT River Watershed Source to Sea Cleanup.  We have kept track, as best we can, of the items and quantities of trash we have found over years in our rivers and on their banks.  We have found pretty much everything dumped in our rivers!

Among the most common trash items, our volunteers find hundreds of plastic bags in and near rivers.  A couple of years ago, I was cleaning up along the Connecticut River in Holyoke with a bunch of volunteers.  The river was low on that day, and we kept finding lots of plastic bags embedded in the river sediment in shallow water.  It was hard to get the full bag out without tearing it.  If the bag gets into little pieces, that makes it worse for the fish.  If we leave the bag there, it will eventually break up and then it becomes one of the millions of pieces of macro- and micro-plastic that is polluting the world’s oceans.  I was working side by side with one of the employees of Holyoke’s wastewater treatment plant, and he said, “Gee, now I see why people want to ban these things.”

Too many of these plastic bags don’t make it to the trash and the recycling and they are polluting our waters.  Even when they are disposed of properly, they are piling up and we have too much waste to handle.  We need to change the way our society works, and we need to generate far less trash.  Please pass the state-wide bag bill.  Like the bottle deposit law, having a price on the bags will be the best way to reduce littering.

In closing, we respectfully urge the Committee to report H.7771/S.462 out favorably.  It’s the right way to move closer to a Zero Waste economy.  I can be reached at adonlon@ctriver.org or (413) 772-2020 x.205.


Andrea F. Donlon

River Steward

Via email: anne.gobi@masenate.gov, Smitty.Pignatelli@mahouse.gov, Henry.Kahn@masenate.gov, Robert.Libin@mahouse.gov, Jacqueline.Manning@mahouse.gov, Vasundhra.Sangar@mahouse.gov