SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. - At the Lewisboro Town Board Meeting on June 25, the law banning the use of single-use plastic bags for retail checkout was adopted.
“I would like to give a big vote of thanks to our Sustainability Committee and those on the board who have really supported them,” said Town Supervisor Peter Parsons, “because I think this is a significant step forward.”
The law, which was passed unanimously by the members of the Town Board, was met with a applause from some people in attendance, including Elizabeth Meyer-Gross, a member of the Sustainability Committee who had championed the banning from the beginning.
“It was worth every minute of work that I put into it,” she said. “And the fact that it was a unanimous decision makes it all the more terrific for this town.”
Under the new law, retailers will only be able to provide their customers with reusable bags and/or recyclable paper bags at checkout. Each paper bag will carry with it a 15-cent charge. One resident in attendance, Patrick Morris-Suzuki, spoke out in opposition of the paper bag fee. Morris-Suzuki recently moved to the area and, because he does not yet have a driver’s license, is required to walk to and from the supermarket when grocery shopping.
“Sometimes you need quite a lot of bags,” he said. “I will attempt to bring as many reusable bags as possible, but I think a 15-cent charge for bags when you need to double bag your groceries seems excessive.” Parsons said that the goal of the charge is to ultimately discourage the use of paper bags across the board.
“What we’re really after is that everyone uses reusable bags,” he said.
He also cited the success of the recent ban on plastic bags in New Castle as being a catalyst for this law in Lewisboro.
“This law has had considerable success in another town,” he said. “And I really would like to mirror it pretty closely.”
Immediately following the law’s adoption at the meeting, Meyer-Gross approached Morris-Suzuki, welcoming him to the community by presenting him with a free reusable bag.
Styrofoam containers were also banned, but certain items are exempt from the law, including containers used for prepackaged food (providing they were filled and sealed prior to receipt by the store), single-service articles that do not contain food or beverages, and Styrofoam containers used to store raw meat, pork, fish or poultry sold from a butcher case.
The law will officially go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, which will give retailers six months to rid themselves of their surplus plastic bags and any Styrofoam containers or cups. After the first of January, anyone found in violation of the law could face a fine of up to $250 for a first offense. Second and third offenses, provided they were committed within five years of the first, carry fines of up to $700 and $1,000, respectively.
Speaking on behalf of ACME, whose Goldens Bridge location will be directly affected by the new law, Dana Ward, senior communications coordinator for the company, said, “While we would rather see ordinances like this handled by the state instead of individual municipalities, so ACME is not left at a competitive disadvantage by competitors outside town lines, ACME will continue to comply with any ordinance set by Lewisboro.”
Meyer-Gross felt a sense of vindication with the law’s passing, but also felt that it was a victory for Lewisboro as a whole.
“It’s a great step for Lewisboro to be among the towns that believe in protecting the environment and doing the right thing,” she said.