The End of Plastic Bags

The question “paper or plastic” will soon leave our vocabulary if the state Department of Environmental Protection has its way.

DEP would discourage the use of common plastic super market bags by charging a nickel a bag tax. The idea doesn’t sit well with shopper Kendra Walker.

“It would be outrageous,” Walker said.”I don’t even have the funds to cover it. You can barely pay for food.”

But the ban isn’t totally outrageous. This food co-op stopped using plastic bags six months ago, with no complaints.

“We support it because we encourage our customers to really think about where their trash is going,” Cristin Burns, marketing manager of New Leaf Food Co-Op, said.

Cloth bags offer an alternative…but pet owners like Ray Handley and his friend Ninja have a special need that would be very unpleasant with cloth bags.

“I use them, obviously when I’m here in the park, to clean up after my dog,” Handley said. “So it’s something that I, you know, when I go to the grocery store, I get plastic and I save the bags.”

The Department of Environmental Protection is still months away from making a recommendation and when it does it won’t likely be a total ban.

“So what we’re trying to do is work to try to find ways that we can reduce that waste stream, but still deal with the public’s need to get groceries home,” Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole said.

In the end, public pressure to use alternatives, not public policy, will likely determine the plastic bags future.

In addition to supermarkets, newspapers, who depend on plastic bags to keep the paper dry are expected to fight even a partial ban on plastic bags.

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