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plastic bag ban

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Keeping plastic bags out of landfills and the environment is the goal of New York State’s ban of the bags in grocery stores, but Foodlink’s CEO Julia Tedesco said there could be other consequences.

“We are also acutely aware and have had concerns that it could have a negative impact on low-income households who might not be able to afford these reusable bags,” said Tedesco.

On March 1, grocery stores and other retail outlets will no longer be providing shoppers with single-use plastic bags, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is making a last-minute push to get the word out on the plastic bag ban.

The state’s ban on most single-use plastic bags takes effect March 1, and over the holiday weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s environmental agency released regulations on how to carry out the new law.

It’s the second time that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation chose a holiday to introduce rules that will affect most New Yorkers. The draft regulations for carrying out the plastic bag ban were released on Thanksgiving Eve.

The new rules have left both environmentalists and the plastics industry fuming.

www.KQED.org

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York retailers have begun giving up single-use plastic bags as the state prepares for the March 1 implementation of a ban aimed at reducing pollution, but many of those who support a move away from plastic are worried the new law doesn't go far enough.

The law bars many types of businesses from using the thin plastic bags that have been clogging up landfills, getting tangled in trees and accumulating in lakes and seas. Single-use paper bags will still be allowed, but counties have the option of imposing a 5 cent fee.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

The ban on single-use plastic bags at supermarkets and other shops takes effect in just over a month. Supporters say the state’s environmental agency has not done enough to prepare the public for the shift. 

After March 1, New Yorkers will need to get into the habit of bringing reusable bags with them to the grocery store and to other retailers like Target and Walmart. 

At midnight on Monday, Wegmans enacted its ban on most single-use plastic bags. That means customers can now use reusable bags or pay five cents for each paper bag. Community members are reacting to the change, with some complaining about what they call an inconvenience and added expense, while others are lauding the company for going more green. The move comes in advance of a state ban on plastic bags that begins March 1.

This hour, we discuss the impact of the change on customers and the environment, if and how other entities will follow suit, and how to have effective conversations about sustainability and recycling. Our guests:

WXXI News

Starting Monday, single-use plastic bags won't be available at area Wegmans stores.

The grocery chain is getting an early start on the state-wide ban, which begins in March.

Options for shoppers starting Monday include bringing in your own reusable bag, which the company recommends, or buy a paper bag at five cents each, with the proceeds going to the local food banks.

Wegmans spokesperson Deana Percassi saidcustomers can bring in old Wegmans plastic bags and reuse them at the store.

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Wegmans shoppers will no longer be able to carry their groceries home in the store's recognizable brown plastic bags at the end of January.  

The Rochester-based supermarket chain is removing single-use plastic bags from its New York stores on January 27, ahead of a statewide ban that takes effect on March 1.

Customers will have two choices: bring their own bags - which Wegmans is encouraging them to do - or request paper bags, which come with a 5-cent fee per bag. Customers who receive SNAP or WIC benefits are exempt from the fee.

Governor Cuomo's office

As Earth Day was celebrated Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that bans single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail shops in New York state.

Cuomo, crumpling a plastic bag in his hand for effect, said the bags “look harmless enough” but are actually dangerous to the environment -- and New Yorkers use 23 billion of them a year. They end up in landfills and on the street. Cuomo, an avid deep-sea fisherman, said they also clog up the waterways.