Suffolk County plastic bag ban set to take effect January 1

RIVERHEAD, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Suffolk County residents should start stocking up on their reusable shopping bags. Beginning January 1, plastic bags will cost five cents each under a new environmental law.

The plastic bag ban, which was approved in 2016, will apply to all convenience, grocery, liquor, office supply, clothing and home center stores. It will not apply to fast food establishments, delis or restaurants. Additionally, shoppers will not be charged for using the small plastic bags at supermarkets that are used to bag produce or meats and fish.

"Listen, bring your own bag, avoid the fee," said legislator William Spencer, who sponsored the bill. "I hate fees. We don't like fees. I don't want families, I don't want seniors to pay a fee. So bring a bag."

A group of 85 high school students and 15 teachers from seven Suffolk school districts and St. Joseph's College recently conducted a study in advance of the law. They found that out of 11,395 people surveyed, 70 percent of people said they only use plastic bags to carry their groceries and shopping items.

"We're asking everyone to make a New Year's resolution to bring your own bag to the grocery store," said Adrienne Esposito, with Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Fight plastic pollution."

If you are unable to purchase a reusable bag, you can call legislator William Spencer at 631-854-4500 to receive a free bag.
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