Thursday, October 11, 2018

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Support for bag ban at Ulster County hearing, with caveats

Lavalle: "... a plague ..."

KINGSTON – Public speakers supported the new bill regulating use of paper and plastic retail shopping bags in Ulster County but gave warnings not to affect the poor while saving Planet Earth.

About a dozen spoke Tuesday afternoon at a public hearing held in Kingston, regarding the local law promoting the use of reusable bags and regulating the use of plastic carryout bags and recyclable paper carryout bags.

The law, passed recently, awaits a signature from the Ulster County Executive Michael Hein. It bans single use plastic bags at all covered stores and imposes a nickel fee for each paper bag.

County Environmental Coordinator Amanda LaValle is all onboard with the plan.

“We all agree that plastic bags are the epitome of something that is unsustainable,” LaVlle said. “Banning plastic bags is a major step towards dealing with what I consider to be a plague and addiction to single-use plastics.”


Maloney - charge for plastic bags

LaValle said changing over will require “behavior change” for many people. She recommended an advisory board to help set up the program.

Other experts underlined the toxic nature of disposable plastics, which are also spelled out within the proposed legislation. A waiver was strongly suggested for those on Food Stamps and public assistance.

A first offense gets merchant violators a warning, followed by fines of $100, $250, and $500 for each subsequent breach, respectively.

Ulster County Legislator James Maloney suggested charging for plastic rather than paper. “There are too many unknowns,” he said. “The best way to eliminate plastic bags is to charge for them. Charge for plastic bags, and we will see them go away.”


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