Wilton merchants are ready for plastic bag fee
Better bring a reusable bag to the grocery store from now on if you don’t want to get hit up with a 10-cent fee.
Starting Aug. 1, shoppers will be charged a dime for each single-use plastic bag they use at checkout, thanks to the new budget passed by the Connecticut General Assembly.
After July 1, 2021, a permanent ban on plastic bags will be implemented. Then no retail or grocery store will be permitted to distribute single-use plastic bags at checkout.
The 10-cent fee will go to the state, which expects to collect $56 million until the ban hits in 2021.
With approximately one billion plastic bags used each year in Connecticut, the goal of the ban is to reduce pollution.
Three Wilton merchants have already taken steps to reduce plastic bag use at their stores.
Tim Dolnier, co-president and co-owner of Village Market on Old Ridgefield Road, said his philosophy is to give customers options.
“The idea is a net positive for the environment to get rid of plastic bags. So, we are offering our customers options,” he said.
The first thing the store does is provide high-quality plastic bags made of 30-percent post-recyclable material which are larger and more durable than other grocery stores.
Because the bags are higher quality, they do not need to be double bagged. The store has a recycle bin where customers can deposit their used bags.
As an incentive, customers are offered five cents for every bag they bring in on their own, even Village Market plastic bags.
Dolnier also has instructed cashiers to ask customers if they need a bag if they are buying a small quantity of items so bags aren’t wastefully handed out.
The market also has paper bags if customers need them.
But because paper bags are said to leave a bigger carbon footprint than plastic bags, Dolnier is encouraging customers to use reusable bags, which the market sells in standard and refrigerated styles.
Financially, the ban is putting a large burden on retailers because paper is about four times the cost of plastic bags, Dolnier said. “It is significant and that money has to come from somewhere,” he said.
John and Annie Moon of Silver Hanger Cleaners at 35 Danbury Road provide customers with a reusable green bag, instead of plastic bags for their cleaning orders.
Customers get their own bags. They bring their cleaning to the shop in the bag, and pick it up when it’s ready in the same reusable bag. This cuts down substantially on the cleaners’ plastic bag use.
“We just started doing this and people like it,” Annie Moon said.
Frank Randazzo, owner of Lang’s Pharmacy on Center Street, said the new law will not have a big impact on the drug store.
“Most prescription bags are paper, and we switched over to recyclable bags in our boutique a while ago,” he said.
Randazzo is doing his own part for recycling. Because of HIPAA privacy laws, he said pharmacies are required to shred all cardboard containers they get containing shipments. That adds up to lots of shredding waste thrown in the trash.
So, instead of getting deliveries in boxes, Lang’s now has reusable plastic bins which wholesalers use instead of cardboard boxes. “This has cut down on cardboard use immensely,” Randazzo said.
Connecticut’s plastic bag law makes it the fourth state to enact a statewide ban. New York, California and Hawaii have already done so, and Rhode Island is considering a ban.
Editor's Note: Information was added clarifying the dry cleaner's green bag option.