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Are you ready for plastic bag ban March 1st?

Small businesses figuring out the plastic bag ban
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jan 27, 2020

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — New York State’s ban on plastic bags begins March 1st, but Wegmans ended the use of plastic bags at the end of January.

7 Eyewitness News took a closer look at how other stores will be dealing the ban.

“I have no problem with it. It's good for the ecology. Wegmans just needs to put handles on these bags,” Garrick Brown, Buffalo Wegmans shopper.

Garrick Brown, Buffalo Wegmans shopper, bought paper bags Monday.

Brown bought paper bags at the Wegmans on Amherst Street in Buffalo. Wegmans shoppers who want paper must pay a nickel per paper bag, purchase reusable bags or bring their own.

While Wegmans shoppers appeared to be adapting well to end of plastic bags, for smaller businesses, there is some confusion over the new law.

At the Broadway Market in Buffalo, some vendors are not sure if they can still use single-use plastic bag for customers.

At Lewandowski’s Produce they will still be able to use plastic bags for fruits and vegetable, but if someone buys of of their large jars of honey they would not be able to put it into a carry out plastic bag.

Daira Parker at Lewandowski Produce says there are some exemptions for certain items.

Lewandowski Produce inside the Broadway Market where fruits can be placed in plastic bags.

“But I have wet items as well, so we don’t really know as far as the t-shirt bags – the shopping bag itself, they say were exempt from that but if we’re still going to be able use those for those items or note,” explained Parker.

But Parker says buying paper bags could be too costly for her business. She says they’ve looked into the price and so far were quoted an $.11 per bag cost.

Parker is also worried about charging customers for paper or reusable bags.

“We’re in a little bit poorer area where people might not be able to afford the bags, so we’re struggling with that,” Parker remarked.

There are exemptions for items like meat, fish or poultry, fruits and bulk items. But to take your groceries home or buying items at clothing stores, plastic bags will no longer be used as of March 1st and that includes box stores from Target and Walmart to JCPenny and Old Navy.

There are exemptions for items like meat, fish or poultry, fruits and bulk items.

Matt Seaholm is executive director American Progressive Bag Alliance. The organization represents plastic bag manufacturers and recyclers in the U.S.

“There will be stores without bags – there’s no doubt about it or they’re going to be breaking the law - that's really the two choices because they won’t have the necessary bags that comply with these standards that are proposed,” Seaholm stated.

Seaholm says the new law is filled with inconsistencies and the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working on a possible compromise. The DEC hosted a public hearing in Albany Monday.

In other states that ban plastic bags, such as California and Delaware, he says there is now a paper bag shortage.

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Inside Amherst Street Wegmans, shoppers can buy paper bags.

“Right now, there's not any sort of excess capacity anyway, but New York is going to immediately flip a switch and say we need four to five billion bags, that just doesn't exist,” declared Seaholm.

You can say also goodbye to plastic bags at dollar stores. Dollar General tells 7 Eyewitness News it is "committed to complying" to the state’s new law.

Target also sent us a written statement on the plastic bag ban saying Target “complies with all local and state ordinances.” Target is offering a five-cent discount for customers using the stores reusable bags.

“Every store offers an alternative to plastic bags, including paper bags or reusable plastic bags for purchase. In an effort to promote the use of reusable bags and keep more plastic bags out of landfills, Target gives guests a five-cent discount for each reusable bag used at all of our stores. For example, if a guest uses five reusable bags, they will receive a $0.25 discount on their purchase. In addition, Target voluntarily provides plastic bag recycling kiosks at the front of all of our stores.”