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Push For Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Picking Up Steam Statewide

A single-use plastic bag ban may be coming to Connecticut.
A single-use plastic bag ban may be coming to Connecticut. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

The push to ban single-use plastic bags is gaining steam as elected officials propose legislation to phase them out in Connecticut.

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Two bills have been sent to the General Assembly’s Environmental Committee in Connecticut that would either ban or disincentive the use of such bags by charging a fee for each one used.

The first bill, co-sponsored by Reps. David Michel and Josh Elliott would potentially ban plastic bags, straws, certain packaging and other products that contain microplastics. The second proposed bill, submitted by Rep. Christine Conley, would see a five-cent tax on any single-use plastic or paper bags. Funds from the fees would then be allocated for environmental projects statewide.

Recently, grocery chain Big Y - which has 30 locations in Connecticut - announced that it would be phasing out all single-use plastic bags in its stores by 2020. Big Y estimates it uses 100 million plastic bags and 3.5 million paper bags annually.

Between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the United States and they are not acceptable at certain recycling centers.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, single-use plastic bags are one of the top five single-use plastics found in the environment by magnitude, and they are one of the top five items encountered in coastline clean-ups.

The EPA estimates that 80 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean originated on land, which includes plastic bags, and in New York, residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually, which contributes to pollution both on and off land. These bags do not biodegrade and they persist for years.

"Plastic pollution has become a serious threat to our lakes, rivers and marine environment as well as public health. Scientists are finding plastic pollution in shellfish and finfish, making its way to our dinner plates,” Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito noted. “Giving up plastic bags and using reusable bags is one easy, reasonable step each member of the public can take to help combat the plastic pollution epidemic. It is time for everyone to get on the plastic bag 'ban wagon.”

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