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Source: CBS New York

Suffolk Lawmaker Proposes Banning Use Of Plastic Bags At Retail Stores

Posted: March 3, 2016
Originally Published: March 2, 2016

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County lawmakers want to ban the use of plastic bags in stores.

A new proposal calls for consumers to shift to reusable bags or else pay retailers for paper bags. As CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported, if the measure is passed, Suffolk would become the first county in the state to ban plastic bags.

Years of studies show that plastic bags not disposed of properly not only pollute, but pose a choking threat to wildlife.

Now, a Suffolk lawmaker says it’s time to get them out of retail stores and customers’ shopping carts.

“They have an impact on our drinking water; they block sewers and drains; they get trapped in our sewage treatment plants and they’re not necessary,” said Suffolk Leg. William Spencer (D-Huntington).

Spencer’s bill would require shoppers to bring their own reusable bags or pay 10 cents for each paper bag retailers would be required to provide as an alternative.

“I think it’s a good idea. It takes 10 years for bags to dissolve in a landfill,” said Phillip Yakubec, of Brentwood.

“I don’t mind if they get rid of the plastic bags, but I think 10 cents for a paper bag is a bit much,” said Jo Holmberg, of Smithtown.

“The Legislation is specifically crafted to change public behavior, meaning that the public will learn to bring their own bags to the store,” said Adrienne Esposito, with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Esposito said her organization surveyed more than 600 county residents and found more than 80 percent supported the ban.

But a spokesman for plastic bag manufacturers told CBS2 “It makes no sense to ban an incredibly useful, reusable and 100 percent recyclable product that supports more than 24,000 jobs nationwide.”

Some consumers said reusable bags or paper don’t work as well to prevent cross-contamination from bacteria.

“That’s not going to help with a leaky chicken package,” said Connie Parisi, of Commack. That’s where I need plastic and that’s where I need it separate from the other food.”

Suffolk Republicans, the minority in the county’s Legislature, call the ban a death of a thousand cuts for the consumer.

There will be public hearings on the proposed ban. The first meeting is set for March 22.

More than 15 states have enacted bans or fees on plastic bags. Similar measures in New York City have repeatedly failed, but supporters say they will soon try again.

Watch the story