Legislature could vote on surcharge early next year
By Jeff Simms
Six members of the Dutchess County Legislature, including the two who represent Beacon, have proposed adding a 10-cent per bag surcharge on disposable grocery bags.
The Beacon City Council is expected to adopt a resolution on Monday, Nov. 5, supporting the proposal.
Introduced in October by a group including Dutchess legislators Nick Page and Frits Zernike, both of whom are from Beacon, the bill must first be approved in committee. If all goes smoothly, the Legislature could vote on the law early in 2019, Page said. If approved, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
“We’re facing an ecological and consumption crisis,” Page said. “I’m optimistic that we have the support for this. Anything we can do to curb our [disposable] appetites is critical.”
Chain Drops Plastic
DeCicco & Sons, a chain of seven family-owned supermarkets, including in Brewster, said it planned to eliminate single-use plastic bags by the end of November.
“We’ll continue to have paper bags available, but we’ll be encouraging people to use durable, reusable shopping bags,” said Christopher DeCicco, a vice president, told Supermarket News. “Customers that return to the store with their own bags will receive a credit on their register total.”
He said the stores used 22 million plastic bags last year. “That won’t happen again next year,” he said.
Earlier this year, Kroger said it planned to eliminate plastic bags at its 2,800 supermarkets by 2025. It uses 6 billion single-use bags annually.
The law would require retailers including grocery, drug, apparel, hardware and convenience stores to charge customers 10 cents for each disposable plastic or paper bag provided. Customers bringing reusable bags would not be charged; revenue generated by the fees would go to the retailers. The fees would likely be waived for seniors or customers paying through federal food assistance programs “with the hope that we can get anyone who doesn’t have access matched up with reusable bags,” Page said.
More than a dozen municipalities and counties in New York have enacted similar measures, including Ulster, which will ban disposable plastic bags by next summer. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a statewide ban.
While plastic bags, which are typically made of a high-density (checkout line) or low-density (produce bags) polyethylene, are recyclable, they take hundreds of years to break down in landfills, eventually decomposing into smaller, more toxic materials. Additionally, misplaced bags wreak havoc on virtually every recycling stream, jamming machines and contaminating the materials produced at recycling plants.
Jb Said, the manager of Key Food in Beacon, said that although more than half of its customers bring their own bags, the change could be “a challenge at the moment” for consumers who would be forced to pay the extra fee. “It’s going to make people buy the [reusable] bags,” he said. He added that Key Food plans to introduce a more durable plastic bag next year, as well.