Dutchess County Eyes Plastic Bag Ban

As supermarkets nationwide are moving away from using plastic bags, Dutchess County will be doing the same in 2020. The Dutchess County Legislature approved a bill in December to have all grocery stores dispense with single-use plastic bags in favor of paper or another reusable type of bag to carry groceries by the beginning of next year. According to the Dutchess County Legislature, the county uses around 100 million plastic bags each year.

The argument made against plastic bags at the time was that they are often left lying in landfills after being used for groceries, and they are not easily biodegradable. The ban emanated from a larger bill in New York State that was introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last year after Earth Day, announcing a plan to rid the state of plastic bags by the end of this year.

Thus far, other grocery stores in the New York area have followed suit. Local chain DeCicco’s & Sons started to eliminate plastic bags from its stores last fall in an effort to create a more environmentally sustainable climate for its customers.

Not all customers in Dutchess County are on board with this move, according to Jenna Argyle and Caroline Guthrie, two cashiers from Nature’s Pantry in Fishkill who have heard mixed reactions from customers since the ban was announced. “People are saying that it’s a good idea, because it’s hard to find ways to recycle plastic bags,” said Argyle. “All and all, customers are fifty-fifty on the issue.”

Guthrie said that there are customers who are upset because they have specific reasons for wanting to carry their groceries in plastic bags. “Customers tell me that they’re mad about the ban because they want to use the plastic bags afterwards for kitty litter or lining trash cans,” she said. Despite some of the negative feedback, Nature’s Pantry is already supporting the new law by only having paper bags for its customers who don’t carry bags of their own.

Adams Fairacre Farms in Wappingers Falls has already started preparing for the ban, as well. As Ulster County prepares to enact a similar law in July, assistant store manager Garrett Dyal is creating a marketing strategy to help customers get familiar with the Dutchess County law. “For us, it’s a test experience,” he said. “We’re going to start marketing around that time to make people aware.” As for other bag options, Dyal knows that paper bags have their drawbacks for the environment as well. “Paper bags have a much larger carbon footprint than plastic bags,” he said. “We are trying to come up with alternative ideas for bags [in the store].”

For more information, visit DutchessNY.gov or DEC.NY.gov online and search “plastic bag ban.”