October 20, 2021

Plastic bag ban to resume

Stores get ready for enforcement beginning Oct. 19

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Jamil McArthur hands a credit card to Joannah Rossnagel on Friday at Anderon’s Farm Market in Little York. The state will resume its ban on single-use plastic bags on Oct. 19, and stores are beginning to encourage reusable bags.

Noreen Ryan of Ithaca transferred her reusable cloth bag and plastic bags full of produce Friday from the counter to her cart inside Anderson’s Farm Market in Little York.

She usually uses a reusable bag when she goes shopping to help reduce pollution.

“I think once I’m in the habit, I’m in the habit,” she said. “It’s easy once you stop having to think about it.”

Ryan and other shoppers will be encouraged to bring their own reusable bag or have to buy a paper or plastic bag as the state’s single-use plastic bag ban resumes Oct. 19, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The ban was enacted March 1, but wasn’t enforced because of concerns including health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

But starting Oct. 19, the DEC will enforce fines of $250 to business owners for the first violation and $500 for the second. Stores across the county have responded at different speeds to the upcoming enforcement.

The Byrne Dairy convenience store on Groton Avenue in Cortland has removed all of its plastic bags since the ban was first enacted in March, said store manager Paul Nino.

The store has been selling paper bags for 5 cents and reusable bags for 99 cents, along with posting signs letting customers know that they don’t give out plastic bags anymore.

Nino has encouraged customers to buy a reusable bag “just because it’s not only good for the environment but good for the customer,” he said.

He noted that two weeks ago, his store ran out of paper bags and had to have people purchase reusable bags if they didn’t have their own. He sold out of his roughly 35 reusable bags in a day and a half.

“It’s a change in behavior people have to get accustomed to,” he said.

At Anderson’s Farm Market on Route 281 in Homer, owner Matt DeHart said the store originally stopped using plastic bags when the ban went into effect in March but brought them back during the pandemic.

His store still uses them and plans to do so until a few days before the ban goes into effect, trying to whittle down his inventory.

Like Byrne Dairy, Anderson’s has been selling reusable bags since March but, DeHart said, “A lot more people are using single-use bags because they’re concerned about contamination” that could occur with meats and produce being put together.

The store will have heavier plastic bags available for purchase for a nickel if people don’t have bags with them, DeHart said.

DeHart said his store will “leave the option up to the customer on what kind of bag” they want.

Jamil McArthur of Auburn said that he didn’t have much of an opinion on the change as he hadn’t thought much about it.

McArthur, who was also shopping at Anderson’s Farm Market, said that he tries to use reusable bags when he knows he is going shopping, but will use plastic or paper if it is a spontaneous trip like on Friday.

“If it’s the law, then you have to be environmentally friendly,” he said.