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A Range of Opinions on Proposed Ban for Single-Use Plastic Bags

Scott Willis / WAER News

Governor Cuomo has announced legislation to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags at all retail and grocery stores in New York State. While most agree that reusable fabric bags carried in and out of stores are the best option when it comes to cutting back on pollution, not all agree that plastic bags should be taken out of the equation completely.  Local organizations have mixed opinions about this opposed ban.

Director of the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency Andrew Radin supports the ban, noting the positive effect it will have on the environment and post-consumer waste management.

“It also creates a problem from waste water treatment facilities to deal with it as a maintenance problem, and it’s also a maintenance problem in recycling facilities across the state as it really jams up equipment, so there’s a variety of both environmental and economic advantages to removing the plastic bags from the system.

CEO of the Retail Council of New York State Ted Potrikus said it’s not so much picking one side or the other when it comes to legislation like this.

“We’ve put the bill out to our members for their comments, and we’re still collecting comments on it, so we haven’t taken a position on the actual ban part of it yet, but we’re foursquare behind the idea that whatever happens, how do we figure out how to make this work for everybody rather than a hard support or a hard opposition.

Wegmans is opposing the ban. In a release, Wegmans indicated that out of the three options, plastic bags are favorable to paper because the lightweight bags can be transported in larger numbers and take fewer trucks to bring to stores. They added that their plastic bags already consist of 40% recycled materials, far fewer resources than paper bags. Some groups in Albany are taking into consideration the harm paper is causing too.

“The ban is good, but you have to add to that a fee on the paper bags as well. There are certain groups out here who want to see that happen. They want both.  As with any piece of legislation, this is when people start duking it out, figuring out who’s gonna have to pay what, who does what.”

Potrikus admits his wife is great about using reusable bags while he’s more inclined to forget them. He says, however, that it’s only a matter of breaking the habit. If legislation is passed, the ban would be statewide and go into effect on January 1, 2019.