SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – New York State lawmakers are imposing a ban on plastic bags that will take effect next March. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the ban a year ago, which will forbid stores from providing consumers with single-use plastic bags. There are a few exceptions, including restaurant takeout bags, bags used to wrap deli meat and meat counter products, and bags for bulk items.
The main debate focuses on paper bags versus plastic bags, with paper bags being an alternative solution. The ban allows counties to charge a five cent fee on paper bags. With the future banning of plastic bags in place, a lot of attention turns towards grocery stores.
A Wegmans spokesperson says “a plastic bag ban that doesn’t also address the use of paper bags is not a sustainable solution. Just one implication, and there are others: it takes 7 tractor trailers to transport the same number of paper bags carried by one tractor trailer.”
However, despite all of the controversy surrounding the plastic bag ban, a local expert believes that this will have a positive impact on the local community. Amelia Hoffman works with sustainability projects at SUNY ESF and she says the bag ban is a step in the right direction.
“You see plastic bags blowing through the streets in the city. It clogs up our waterways so our water and waste management systems, plastic bags get caught in those collection systems. They get caught in the recycling collection systems, so I think it’ll make some of our public services a little smoother running,” says Hoffman.
Hoffman says that sustainability starts with change, and people are going to push back and fight because of that change. Hoffman also says that the consumer is in control in this situation because they have many different options, including using reusable bags in addition to paper bags.
For people who are still using plastic bags, many grocery stores have recycling programs where you can drop off single-use plastic bags.