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On Earth Day, A Push To Ban Plastic Bags, Microbeads

by | Apr 22, 2015 3:40pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Business, Environment, Jobs, Poverty, State Capitol, Branford, Guilford, Hartford

Christine Stuart photo On Earth Day, Republicans and Democrats held a Capitol press conference to proclaim their support for legislation that would phase out the use of plastic bags and the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetic products.

The plastic bag bill, which was raised in 2009, 2011, and again this year, would impose a 10-cent fee on customers for each plastic bag they are given at a store. Under this year’s bill, plastic bags would be phased out completely and by October 2019 and stores would only be able to sell reusable bags. The bill has made it through two committees and both Republicans and Democrats expressed optimism about its chances this year.

Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., co-chairman of the Environment Committee, said he’s hopeful they can craft a proposal that everyone can agree upon. He said they are talking with retailers who oppose the legislation to see if they can’t reach consensus.

“It’s a pretty strong bill,” Kennedy said.

Rep. John Shaban, R-Redding, said he could support the bill with a couple of “tweaks.” He said they are talking with retailers about the best way to approach the problem. The problem is that large numbers of non-biodegradable plastic bags end up in Connecticut’s waterways and neighborhoods.

Christine Stuart photo Rep. James Albis, D-East Haven, said the Wall Street Journal estimated that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year and each plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down. The average family accumulates 60 bags in just four trips to the grocery store, Albis said.

“Due to their inability to biodegrade, single-use plastic bags have become one of the most common forms of litter found in our environment,” Albis said.

The legislation is being opposed by the Connecticut Food Association, which represents the grocery stores.

Stan Sorkin, president of the Connecticut Food Association, testified that asking customers to spend disposable income on plastic bags is an unfair burden for working families.

“We believe that working families and inner city residents and senior citizens should not be faced with the expense of paying 10-cent fees on non-reusable bags, and thus reducing their disposable income that could be spent on necessities,” Sorkin testified in February.

Sorkin told the Environment Committee that Connecticut residents have embraced the reusable bags and there’s no reason to impose an additional fee on them.

Kennedy said they are working with the grocers and the retail industry to reach a compromise.

“Good business policy and good environmental policy are not mutually exclusive,” Shaban said.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hasn’t embraced the legislation. As a dog owner, Malloy wondered what he will use to pick up after his Jack Russell terriers.

“I have two dogs. I need those bags,” Malloy said in 2011.

Asked about the legislation in January, Malloy offered a similar response.

“I’m an owner of a couple of dogs,’’ Malloy said at an unrelated press conference. “I appreciate those plastic bags being around.”

Both Kennedy and Shaban were more optimistic about the passage of a bill that would ban microbeads in cosmetic products.

Microbeads are tiny plastic particles used as abrasive or exfoliating agents in more than 100 different personal care products, including facial scrubs, soaps, cosmetics, and even toothpaste. They are made of plastic and end up in waterways.

Sean Moore, associate director of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association — a trade association representing the leading manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements — told the Environment Committee in March that the organization is not necessarily opposed to the phase-out of the plastic microbeads. However, he said Connecticut should try and mirror existing laws in other states to ensure the phase out happens on the same timeline.

Kennedy said they are working on language to adjust the dates in the bill to align with the other states.

“It’s not practical to have 50 states with 50 different rules,” he said.

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(17) Archived Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | April 22, 2015  7:54pm

A 10 cent fee per bag is confiscatory and unnecessary. Why must Demos always demand a penalty? Because they are looking at it as a revenue generator that will once again pilfer the pockets of the people, just like the hated bottle tax - which we have to pay - even when we recycle them religiously but just not by schlepping them to the grocery store. The law is not needed. We use those plastic bags for all kinds of things - sometimes to bring things to friends, sometimes we use it to carry our lunch to work; to pass things on to a client or pick up dog poop.

We are a state run by people who live in another world. Note to Kennedy: It’s not a “strong bill” when it pilfers the pockets of people you allegedly represent. It may not make a difference to you, the elite, but it will make a difference to others.

At some point - perhaps the legislators could focus on matters that actually matter to our lives, that make or lives better, not add to the misery of living in this oppressive, exhaustively expensive state.

posted by: Christine Stuart | April 22, 2015  10:20pm

Christine Stuart

Not to defend the proposal, but I believe after reading the plastic bag bill the 10 cents per bag would go back to retails in the first few years to help them implement the program.

posted by: ACR | April 23, 2015  12:32am


This is getting fringhtening.
last week AG Jepson actually made sense, once; I doubt that’ll happen too often but that it did at all was cause for alarm.

Now the Kennedy kid’s making sense too?
(No - not the bags so much)
The microbeads are creating big problems in sewage treatment plants, eventually find their way to the ocean where they’re attracted to each other.
This creates a real problem for Krill feeders.

Anyone with a clue should support the immediate ban of microbeads.

I’ll regret typing this but Ted version 2.0 is on the money here.

Read about them here:

posted by: justsayin | April 23, 2015  5:22am

Another blow to freedom of choice by the dems. Our way or you pay.

posted by: GBear423 | April 23, 2015  6:05am


so Malloy Dog poo is shielded from the environment for 60 years or so…  well if that is good enough a reason for the Guv, that is good enough for me.  Keep the plastic bags!

posted by: Noteworthy | April 23, 2015  7:05am

Christine: The 10 cents will go back to the retailer until the state wants the money - which is exactly what happened to the bottle money. It’s the doorway to more revenue and it will never go away.

It’s not even clear what expense there will be except for the consumer. What it will do is slow down the check out lines, even the self service lines, because somebody is going to have to wait til all the groceries are bagged, then count the bags, fine you and then you pay.

Moreover, what about those of us who take our excess bags back to the grocery store for recycling? Plenty of us do too - the bin at my Stop and Shop which is right at the front door, is always full.

This is my problem: The law means nothing, will accomplish nothing, will not make my neighborhood cleaner, our landfill any less full by any measurable amount but it will take money from the people who live in this state.

If these tree huggers, which I guess they aren’t since we’ll be chopping more of them down for paper bags, want to ban plastic bags - ban them but don’t tax them. Just ban them.

posted by: dano860 | April 23, 2015  7:30am

A mandate of biodegradable corn starch based bags will require a whole lot less book keeping.
The micro beads need to be replaced with natural pumice. Just like the old Lava soap had.

posted by: SocialButterfly | April 23, 2015  7:39am

Why doesn’t our legislature worry and act on solving the Gov. Malloy fiscal demise of the State of Connecticut and stop the psychological effort to curb plastic bags to get their efforts off of our real problems that need their attention?

posted by: StillRevolting | April 23, 2015  7:40am

How about instead of yet another regressive fee or tax, (I think we may need a new name for everything that falls into this category and may use, “State sponsored lifestyle reduction”.) we educate consumers on alternate uses for and environmental impacts of all types of bags and let them choose. My local IGA is almost all paper which is fine for my wife and I now. Those get used for recycling, little weeding projects in the yard and so forth. When my family ran a kennel, we’d have been lost without plastic. We renamed them “pickin sacks”.

posted by: LongJohn47 | April 23, 2015  7:47am

Westport simply banned plastic bags in retail stores (supermarkets, pharmacies, etc) several years ago and it works well. 

They made an exception for the fruits and vegetable and deli sections in supermarkets, and for plastic bags used by dry cleaning stores, but fast food places and everywhere else are now using paper.

posted by: J | April 23, 2015  8:01am

>> family accumulates 60 bags
>> in just four trips

We put bags back in the cars and drop them off on the next shopping trip!  Almost every market and big box recycles bags.  (Produce and deli bags too!)  Reusable bags are NASTY; they are rarely washed and cross contaminate groceries.

posted by: Salmo | April 23, 2015  9:05am

I would not presume to speak for anybody else but my Wife and I re-use those plastic bags for all sorts of items and chores around the house. And the ones we do not end up using go to the recycling bin at Stop & Shop. I don’t understand people creating a problem with these things.

posted by: NoNonsense | April 23, 2015  1:12pm

So just how are these plastic grocery bags ending up in waterways and neighborhoods? Are people unbagging their groceries outside?

Personally, I think this bill is a stupid idea. Even though the grocery bags are relatively flimsy, I reuse them several times when I go grocery shopping. Then I use them in my kitchen and bathroom wastebaskets to collect trash, then they go where all my trash goes. If I didn’t have those grocery bags, I would have to BUY trash bags, which (as advertised) are thicker and stronger than grocery bags. And is THAT environmentally friendlier?

posted by: SocialButterfly | April 23, 2015  3:05pm

Stan Sorkin is not a politician and exhibits common sense: “Asking customers to spend disposable income on plastic bags is an unfair burden on working families.” Our General Assembly has a documented record of putting burden’s on working families and want to continue their continued demise of favorable common sense help for the people who elected them to office.

posted by: LadyMaverick | April 23, 2015  3:23pm

The solution to the bag issue is simple. Use an additive that makes the bags landfill biodegradable, as well as recyclable. They go away in the trash and can be safely recycled. Check out “Green Film” by Maverick Enterprises. It does both. Starch based will not do either of these two. I had a dog and used bags for him 2-3 times a day. We need bags!! I recycled everything else.

posted by: newview | April 23, 2015  7:16pm

If this .10 fee isn’t typical of politicians who have no clue about the world around them other than to throw a price tag on something, and eventually, get their hands on it for funding special interests. 

Here….is a solution that

1. remedies the plastic bag and other plastics problems

2. creates jobs

3. creates revenue

4. creates useable diesel and other fuels

5. creates ecofriendly environment..cleans up landfills and oceans

6. does not beat up consumers

7.  does not beat up retailers

8.  does not require a whole lot of useless political discussion.  (I’m aware that kills the political process)

9.  It’s forward thinking…I know that also bothers politicians

10. It’s economically sustainable…which is far more than we can say about other state processes.


posted by: art vandelay | April 23, 2015  10:20pm

art vandelay

If you’re going to pick on plastic bags, why not go after all plastic packaging on every product.  It’s everywhere!

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