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Letter: It’s high time for everyone to switch to reusable bags

It’s high time for everyone to switch to reusable bags

It’s time for Erie County residents to switch from single-use to reusable bags. Plastic bags litter our community and often end up in the Great Lakes. It’s estimated that 5.5 million pounds of plastic enter Lake Erie annually – that’s enough plastic to fill 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

U.S. retailers spend $4 billion annually purchasing bags, and this cost is simply passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Municipalities also spend millions cleaning up and disposing of bags. We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch; we need to recognize that there is no such thing as a free bag.

Regrettably, a group of Erie County legislators are pushing a resolution in opposition to a proposed state law to ban plastic bags. The flawed resolution largely touts recycling as the answer to our plastic bag problems. New York State has had a plastic bag recycling law in effect for nearly a decade, and yet, about 95 percent of bags are still not recycled. Individual recycling facilities in New York State spend up to a million dollars a year in extra costs from plastic bags jamming machines and causing contamination. Recycling remains important, but when it comes to plastic bags, it clearly isn’t the only answer.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz deserves praise for pushing a ban on plastic bags. While he wisely supports addressing this issue on the state level, he understands that we can’t always wait for lawmakers in Albany to act, and Erie County must press forward.

Brian Smith


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