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Scarsdale to Look at Banning Plastic Shopping Bags

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Call it the domino effect. Call it good timing. Call it striking while the iron is hot.

An ordinance passed in December by the Rye City Council banning merchants from using disposable plastic bags went into effect Monday. Tuesday, in answer to an inquiry from Scarsdale Mayor Miriam Levitt-Flisser and Trustee Kay Eisenman, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council Co-Chair Lee Fischman said he would start the ball rolling for a similar ban in the village.

“I am placing this on the CAC's agenda,” he wrote in an email, “potentially to be pursued in cooperation with the” Scarsdale Forum, as this “should involve careful and deep preparation.”

The Rye ordinance prohibits the use of disposable plastic bags at the point of sale by all Rye retailers. Instead, retailers must provide "only reusable bags and/or recyclable paper bags as checkout bags to customers." Food bags, such as those used in delis and dry-cleaner bags are among the exempted items.

"It is an issue that the Village Board's Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is starting to discuss," Flisser said Tuesday. "We would have to do some research into just how such a ban might work, but with enough support from the community it could be a worthwhile endeavor."

Fischman wrote about the issue on the Sustainable Scarsdale website and said Tuesday, "Based on my research, we may or may not want to follow the template established in neighboring localities." On the website, he analyzed the pros and cons of the bags vs. alternatives and concluded, "Plastic bag bans are worthwhile only with conscientious reuse of alternative bags."

Eisenman, who is Scarsdale's Sustainability chair and who is active on environmental issues locally and at the county level, expressed enthusiasm for moving ahead on the issue.

"It seems that this is an idea whose time has come," she said. "I suggest the CAC catch the wave."

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