New Healey Orders Target Plastic Bottles, Biodiversity

Gov. Maura Healey plans this week to ban state agencies from purchasing single-use plastic bottles effective immediately, a step that she said Massachusetts will be the first state in the nation to take.

Healey made the announcement Monday morning in New York City, where she spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative ahead of a panel on sustainable ocean conservation practices. Though the governor was met with applause when she announced that she would sign an executive order that “bans the purchase of single-use plastics by state agencies in Massachusetts,” Healey’s office later clarified that the ban will apply only to single-use plastic bottles.

“We know that plastic waste, plastic production are among the leading threats to our oceans, our climate and environmental justice. 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,” Healey said. She added, “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.”

Plastic containers that are often used and discarded, clogging up landfills or making their way into waterways, have been in the crosshairs of environmentalists for years. Cities and towns across Massachusetts have banned single-use plastic shopping bags, plastic straws are giving way in some municipalities to paper alternatives, and lawmakers have repeatedly filed bills to restrict the sale or use of plastic take-out containers and other products.

Healey also announced Monday a separate executive order she will sign this week to establish biodiversity conservation targets and strategies for 2030, 2040 and 2050. Those measures will aim to slow the decline of species diversity, which the governor said threatens the Bay State’s public health, economic stability and food security. There are more than 430 species listed as endangered in Massachusetts, she said.

“Steps taken will include working to stem the loss of salt marshes, which provide critically important habitat, protect inland areas from storm impacts, and remove large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. And we’ll be looking to strategies such as marine protected areas to ensure coastal and ocean habitats critical to our biodiversity can not only recover, but thrive,” Healey said. “We know that our seas and forests are the most fundamental climate resources we have and we are determined to protect them.”

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