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A service we take for granted...

 

When we do our shopping we expect to pay for the products we take home. But surprisingly, we assume that the bags, for which the store owner paid, are free. Free disposable bags have become a service we take for granted. But what we are starting to realize is that the bags come with another price.

 

Plastic bags are concerning because:

 

They don't decompose in landfills or when littered

They shed chemical particles that are found in our food chain and our bodies

They litter our beaches and the oceans

They endanger marine life and wildlife in general

They have very few recycle options

They can clog the machines in recycle facilities

They use fossil fuels or ethane gas for production

They use fossil fuels for distribution

They disperse toxins and air pollution in incinerators

They cost money to clean up

They add to the expenses of our solid waste disposal

They are part of our climate change problem

 

What about paper bags?

 

Regretfully, paper bags, new or recycled, are not a good alternative. It takes more than three times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag, and the production of paper requires a lot of water and chemicals. Pulp and paper generates the sixth largest amount of industrial air, water, and land emissions in the United States.

 

Every year we throw away 100 billion disposable bags in the USA. Most people feel we should find a way to limit this waste and stimulate the use of reusable bags. That is why several municipalities in Westchester have come together to discuss legislation to encourage the use of reusable bags. We hope that a community approach for legislation will help in creating a more level playing field for our stores, and limit the confusion among shoppers.

 

Our initiative

 

We propose to our town boards to adopt an ordinance that will maximize the use of reusable bags most effectively, with a possible ban on disposable plastic bags and a minimum fee of 10 cents on carry out bags. We will propose and discuss two ordinances which have already been successfully implemented:

New Castle Reusable Bag Ordinance

 

Free single-use plastic shopping bags, used as take-out bags, will be banned in ALL stores.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores will be required to charge 10 cents for carry out bags.

Retailers keep the bag charge and display the charge separately on customer receipts.

 

To see the full ordinance click here>

Suffolk County Reusable Bag Law

 

Grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores will be required to charge 5 cents for carry out bags.

Retailers keep the bag charge and display the charge separately on customer receipts.

 

To see the full ordinance click here>

 

Bag definitions

 

Single use/disposable plastic bag: regular, plastic light weight bag the grocery gives us for free at the check out.

Paper bag : brown paper bag, made of kraft paper, with or without handle.

Produce bag: a bag that is needed to contain produce that would otherwise, leak or get contaminated.

Take out or carry out Bag : any bag that is sold or given to us, at the check out, to carry out our produce.

Reusable bag: a bag that is specified with a certain thickness and a minimum number of uses.