Paper or plastic? In less than a month, the way you answer that question could cost you more at the checkout lane.
Single-use plastic bags will cost 10 cents each when the new state law goes into effect August 1.
Some stores are still trying to figure out the logistics of implementing this ban and how much it will cost them.
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Highland Park Market in Manchester expects their supply costs to quadruple because paper bags are more expensive to produce than plastic.
The president of the Connecticut Food Association says some stores may pass that charge onto their customers.
“Most will put the dime on both so that you just don’t shift people directly into paper out of plastic because the paper’s free now,” said Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association.
According to the director of the Plastics Project, 19 Connecticut communities have passed plastic bag bans. While many of those local ordinances return the charge consumers pay to use plastic back to the retailer, the state law does not. It sends the money back into state coffers.
“The idea is not to go out and start charging people for bags. That’s not the intent,” said Pesce. “Our goal is to shift consumer behavior.”
Cindy Ehrlich of Vernon said the new law will change her habits.
“I recycle the plastic that I get, but I will get my own bags,” said Ehrlich.
Sam Iacobellis grew up in Connecticut but now lives in the nation’s capital, which imposed a five cent fee on single-use bags in 2010.
“You see it on your receipt when you check out you remember that and then the next time you do bring a bag,” he pointed out.
Some stores are also trying to decide whether plastic bags should even be an option for their customers. In the year 2021, the state will completely ban them. That means some retailers will have to spend money to reconfigure the front-end of their stores.
“The largest retailer in the world doesn’t carry paper and if you walk into one of their stores you’ll see how they’re set up with the plastic bags all around them,” said Pesce.
The Connecticut Food Association supported the plastic bag ban, though the group which represents most grocers in the state, advocated for more time to put the ban into place. Pesce said the turnaround time for grocers to get their new inventory is 90 days. They don’t have that.
“The session ended 30 days ago, 30 days from now we’ll jump into this new law. So, it’s rather quick,” he explained.
There’s concern that stores will run out of both paper bags and reusable ones. His advice is to bring your own starting August 1.
Another concern is making sure shoppers know they’re being charged, not by the store but by the state. Because so many Connecticut communities have similar bans on the books, retailors have a few clues about what will happen on August 1.
“People didn’t know about it or they’re very upset about it. So, now you’re going to see that on a much larger footprint because it’s the entire state,” said Pesce of the reaction in communities that instituted a ban.
“I figured it was probably going to happen sooner or later,” said Mary Ann Coleman of Manchester.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s great. I don’t think we should be using the single plastic bags,” added Pat Christiana, also of Manchester.
There are some other changes shoppers may notice when the law goes into effect. Self-check-out lanes will be on the honors system.
“You’ll be prompted have you brought your own bag, did you use plastic bags, and if so how many,” said Pesce.
He said those who prefer to have their groceries delivered should be prepared to pay more.
“I don’t think you’ll see a shift to paper in our online delivery business,” Pesce stated.
However, if you’re picking up he says you’ll likely have the option to bring your own reusable bags to pick your items up.
While one customer whose against the ban said it’s just another cost of doing business in Connecticut, Karen Alibiro of Bolton, disagreed.
“As a customer maybe you should not expect that everything is going to be free.”