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Letter: Poloncarz’s plan to ban plastic bags is a bad idea

Poloncarz’s plan to ban plastic bags is a bad idea

During his State of the County speech, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz proposed banning plastic (recyclable) shopping bags at grocery stores and other retailers, citing an environmental hazard. “These ubiquitous bags hold everything from groceries to take out food,” he said.

So how does Poloncarz promote his initiative? He gives out 300 pretty blue reusable (non-recyclable) bags with the county seal to the attendees as a parting gift.

Now shoppers can take their bags to the grocery week after week and fill them with pork, chicken, red meat, fruits, vegetables, bulk and takeout food, where after a few trips they’ll become a hotbed of bacteria.

USA Today reported in 2014 that a study by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University found that 99 percent of reusable bags tested contained bacteria; half carried coliform while 8 percent carried E. coli. The study also concluded that only 3 percent of shoppers wash their reusable bags. A co-author of the study stated, “I classify them as pretty dirty things, like the bottom of your shoes.”

The county plans to spend up to $70,000 for an environmental impact study to determine the feasibility of the legislation. These dollars would be better spent educating the public about the importance of returning the empty plastic bags to the grocery outlets and putting them in the recycle bins where they are easily found at every major food retailer.

Dennis Occhino