Greenport Village to determine feasibility of banning plastic bags

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport IGA cashier Patsy Kaczorowski bags a customer's groceries Monday evening. Greenport Village is looking into banning retailers from offering plastic bags.

While Greenport Village looks to become the next Long Island municipality to ban the use of plastic bags at retail stores, some business owners say the move could negatively affect sales.

During the Village Code Committee meeting on Friday afternoon at Village Hall, Mayor David Nyce said the village is starting preliminary discussions with local business owners to determine the feasibility of restricting single-use plastic bags given by retail stores.

“Plastic is not good for the environment,” he said. “Unless we’re all looking to do this, it’s not worth trying. We all have to agree they are bad for the environment and then decide how we are going to eliminate their use or at least curtail their use and decide what we are going to use instead.”

One alternative Mr. Nyce is suggesting business owners consider is providing paper bags because they are a recycled product.

But Charles Reichert, owner of the Greenport IGA, told The Suffolk Times this week that the move would “greatly affect” his business. While paper bags costs five cents each, plastic bags only cost just under two cents each, he said.

“Paper bags cost three times as much as plastic bags,” Mr. Reichert said. “We’ll be the store that’s affected most.”

Mr. Reichert said although his store sells reusable bags for about a dollar each, he believes many customers prefer using plastic bags because they re-use them at home for trash purposes.

“Now people are going to have to buy more trash bags,” he said.

If the village does move forward with drafting a plastic ban bill, Mr. Reichert said he hopes the board holds off on its decision until the Suffolk County Legislature votes on its own pending legislation that aims to deter shoppers from using plastic bags by charging them five cents for each one they use.

Earlier this year, East Hampton Village passed a bill to ban retailers from offering plastic bags, and Southampton Town is considering similar legislation.

Mr. Nyce said he’s following Southampton’s decision closely.

“I’m waiting to see what happens in Southampton Town,” the mayor said, stressing that the village isn’t “rushing to adopt a local law” to ban plastic bags and will gather feedback from the community.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, who is on the Code Committee and also owns Alice’s Fish Market, said she believes local businesses need to have a seat at the table on plastic bag ban discussions before any further action takes place.

In addition, she said after the meeting that the ban will be problematic for her own business.

“Customers aren’t going to like taking fish home in a paper bag,” Ms. Phillips said.

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