The State of Connecticut’s new ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect August 1. It will place a tax of 10 cents on each single-use plastic bag. After two years the tax will disappear and the single-use plastic bags will be banned in the entire State of Connecticut.
The new state law, however, does not prevent towns or cities from enacting or enforcing their own ordinances that are at least as restrictive as the state’s ban, and can be stricter, as many towns have already done. Many Connecticut towns have also included a charge of 10 cents for each paper bag used.
At the present time, 19 Connecticut towns have banned single us plastic bags. Some of these town laws have already gone into effect, while others will soon take effect. The towns are: Weston, Stamford, Norwalk, New Canaan, New Britain, Middletown, Windham, Guilford, Newtown, Darien, Westport, Greenwich, Mansfield, Hamden, Stonington, Washington, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Darien.
Ten of these towns have instituted a fee of 10 cents for each paper bag used. The other nine towns, as well as the state law, have not done this — as they only address single use plastic bags and do not charge a fee for paper bags.
Why should we also care about paper bag uses?
Paper bags are not as environmentally friendly as people might assume. They generate air and water pollution; and the manufacturing and recycling of them requires a great deal of energy.
Why will grocery stores eventually have no choice but to charge for paper bag use, even if the town in which they operate does not mandate it?
Plastic bags are very cheap for the grocery stores to buy and give out freely. That is why they became ubiquitous in our shopping environment and why we now need to ban them in order to protect our environment and human health. Paper bags are more expensive to produce than plastic bags, according to the plastics Industry’s report. A standard single use plastic bag costs about one cent to produce while a paper bag costs 4 to 5 cents to manufacture. These costs are of course passed on to the grocery stores.
How will the grocery stores afford to let consumers move from cheap banned plastic bags over to more expensive paper bags without charging a fee? With or without a mandate to charge a fee for each paper bag used, our prediction is that the stores will start to do it on their own when they find out what the cost of giving them out freely begins to cost them.
The towns that banned single use plastic bags and also added a fee for each paper bag did that so that the consumers would start to bring into the stores their own reusable shopping bags. The towns that just banned plastic bags and did not put a fee on paper bags will find many customers will start to use paper bags instead of bringing their own shopping bags into the stores.
Grocery stores have many challenges ahead and what each grocery store decides to do to meet these challenges will be interesting to watch.
Meanwhile the public needs to get ready for all these changes and start using reusable shopping bags.
Nancy Alderman is President of Environment and Human Health, Inc.
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