Stores divided over proposal to ban plastic bags

Local

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a bill that would ban plastic bags.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, New York residents use 23 billion plastic bags every year. But that may not be the case for long.

“Cut down on the plastic bags,” Barbara Hoffman, of Albany, said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Hoffman started shopping with reusable bags years ago.

“As often as I can,” she said. “I’m going to start using them, too, even when I go to Walmart.”

It’s the same with Theresa Mattson, of Latham, who’s seen the harmful effects plastic can have on the environment.

“You’ll see a lot of bags flying around,” she said. “You know, up in trees, you can’t even get them.”

To decrease the impact and reduce waste, Gov. Cuomo proposed a bill that would ban plastic bags in the state. Bags used to wrap fruits and vegetables would be excluded.

The idea is welcomed by many customers – even those who don’t shop with reusable bags.

“Maybe people will start caring about the environment and leave something good for our little ones,” Robert Rarick, of Loudonville, said.

But local supermarket chains are split.

Rochester-based Wegman’s is against a ban. Tops, ShopRite, and Hannaford aren’t taking stands but continue to promote recycling efforts.

Schenectady-based Price Chopper said it’s in favor of a ban but wants to see the proposal address paper bags, which many have varying opinions on.

“Then you’re cutting down trees to make paper bags,” Hoffman said.

“A lot of paper bags I think are recycled paper, old newspapers and such,” Rarick said.

Whatever happens, shoppers are ready to change their habits.

“I suppose that I’d have to go out and purchase bags for that purpose, but I don’t really foresee it being a huge deal,” Kyle VanVorst, of Loudonville, said.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American family uses 1,500 plastic bags a year. If passed, the ban would go into effect at the start of 2019.

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