COMMENTARY: Time for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags

COMMENTARY: Time for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags


The widespread use of single-use plastic bags poses a very serious threat to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 500 billion and a trillion such bags are used worldwide each year (including at least 100 billion in the United States). Less than five percent of these bags are recycled; nearly all will remain in the environment for thousands of years.

The manufacture and transport of single-use plastic bags requires vast amounts of water and fossil fuels (and even more for paper bags), and their disposal creates billions of pounds of solid waste and millions of tons of CO2 each year. These discarded bags often litter our streets and neighborhoods and end up in our oceans and waterways and kill countless birds, turtles and fish that ingest the plastic residue.

In addition, plastic bags impose a significant financial burden on both businesses and consumers. U.S. retailers spend at least $4 billion annually on these bags, and much of that cost is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Thus, it is not surprising that the Connecticut Food Association, which represents retail grocery stores in the state, strongly endorses a statewide ban on single-use plastic checkout bags.

Indeed, Big Y, which hands out tens of millions of plastic bags at its 80 stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut (including North Haven), has announced that, beginning in 2020, it will no longer provide such bags to customers and will sell reusable bags to customers at a discounted price.

New Britain, Stamford, Greenwich, Hamden and several other cities and towns in the state have enacted ordinances banning checkout plastic bags, and Branford, Guilford and other towns are actively considering such bans. In addition, California and Hawaii as well as numerous cities and towns in Massachusetts, New York, and other states have done so.

The need for such action is very real and the momentum for a statewide ban in Connecticut is rapidly growing. The North Haven Conservation Commission hopes that these promising developments and the magnitude of the problem will inspire residents of North Haven to take action on behalf of a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at the point of sale. We urge you to:

1.Use only reusable bags.

1.Ask Mike Freda and other members of the Board of Selectmen to vigorously lobby for a statewide ban.

1.Urge Rep. Yaccarino, Sen. Fasano, Sen. Looney, and other members of the legislature to enact a statewide ban during the current session.

1.Talk to family, friends, and others about why a statewide ban is necessary.

1.Emphasize to owners and managers of North Haven businesses the financial and environmental benefits of such a ban.

Submitted by the North Haven Conservation Commission.


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