New York State officials want to reduce the 23 billion plastic bags that are put into circulation throughout the state every year.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he hopes the state succeeds in restricting plastic bag usage, but if not, he hopes Erie County will forge ahead with its own plastic bag ban.
"I would prefer to see it be done at the state level," he said. "If they're not going to do it, I'm still talking with legislators here about getting it done here in Erie County."
The state's Plastic Bag Task Force recently issued a report outlining eight possible alternatives open to state lawmakers to combat the explosion of single-use plastic bags used by grocery store and retail businesses:
- Strengthen and enforce the state's Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act by increasing education, enforcement and reporting rules.
- Require manufacturers to recycle single-use plastic bags.
- Institute a fee on each plastic bag used.
- Impose a per-transaction fee for plastic bag use.
- Levy a fee for plastic and paper bags alike.
- Ban them.
- Ban plastic bags and impose fees on allowable alternatives.
- No action.
Poloncarz said he fully supports a statewide ban on plastic bags, but is less enthused about the idea of charging consumers. He pointed out that the fee charged goes back to the grocer or merchant. If such a fee were imposed, he said, a chunk of that revenue should be diverted to an environmental protection fund.