Supermarket chains in Connecticut are capitalizing on a new law that seeks to ultimately eliminate plastic bags but was engineered to collect $50 million in state revenues beginning August 1.
The once familiar “paper or plastic?” at the supermarket check-out is no longer an option in Connecticut after Democrats passed a law that requires a ten-cent tax on single-use plastic bags until July 1, 2021, when the bags will be entirely banned.
Most consumers have no option currently, however, due to the supermarkets’ decision to forgo offering plastic bags immediately and, instead, offer only paper bags at a fee of ten cents per bag. Since the state’s new ten cent charge is only on plastic bags, the chains can pocket the ten-cent fee on each paper bag themselves.
Stop & Shop, Big Y, and Highland Park supermarkets in Connecticut have all ended the single-use plastic bags at check-outs, two years earlier than is required by the new state law, reported the Journal Inquirer.
The law was just recently passed, forcing store owners and managers to make quick decisions about what to do with their plastic bag inventories.
In an interview with Breitbart News, popular WTIC Connecticut radio host Todd Feinburg said while “the best part of it all” is that the ten cents charge on the plastic bags is not going to the government as Democrats planned, the supermarkets’ action will have an impact on their customers.
“It’s worse for consumers in a way because they’re being denied the option of buying the plastic bags for a dime,” he explained. “And they’ll be going straight to a paper bag option. In my book, the paper bags have way less utility and, when you leave a store with paper bags, they’re heavy and you really feel like you’re doing something bad for the environment.”
Feinburg said many of his listeners have called into his show this week with complaints of the new law and the fees on the paper bags.
“People use the plastic bags for all kinds of things: for school lunches, for pet poop pick-up when they go for a walk – I hear that the most,” he said. “And one of the unintended consequences, as I understand, is that people now start buying plastic bags for the purpose of following their dogs around. And those are thicker bags.”
A study published earlier this year at Science Direct found plastic bag bans may actually encourage people to use less environmentally friendly alternatives.
University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor tracked retail scanner data on the purchase of plastic trash bags in cities both before and after they enacted their bag bans.
“I find the elimination of 40 million pounds of plastic carryout bags is offset by a 12 million pound increase in trash bag purchases – with small, medium, and tall trash bag sales increasing by 120%, 64%, and 6%, respectively,” Taylor concluded, adding that, prior to the bans, 12-22% of plastic bags were reused as trash bags, but once the bans were enacted, consumers shifted toward fewer but heavier plastic bags.
Researchers have also pointed to the health hazards of reusable bags for humans even as environmentalists laud their benefits for the earth.
In June 2018, researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health studied the possible transmission of norovirus through reusable grocery bags (RGBs) at the supermarket. After inoculating RGBs with a surrogate virus to evaluate how the pathogens traveled within a grocery store, researchers found the surrogate virus “spread to all surfaces touched by the shopper; the highest concentration occurred on the shopper’s hands, the checkout stand, and the clerk’s hands.”
The authors concluded the high concentration of the virus warrants public education about washing RGBs between use. Yet, many people simply empty them and replace them immediately in their cars so as not to be without them for their next shopping trip.
“As with all left-wing, feel-good legislation, it spreads like wildfire, and you could think that it spreads from state to state in real time because legislators love jumping board and striking the pose of caring the most about the environment,” Feinburg said. “But, I think it’s got more to do with the fact that there is just the lust for money on the left, and any way they can get revenue, they’re gonna get it. As long as there’s a public perception that porpoises are getting killed because they’re getting plastic bags around their snouts, that’s all it takes.”
The radio host said he believes the law in Connecticut was written solely for the purpose of raising revenues for the once well-off state that, after years of mismanagement, is in a dire financial situation.
“They had their eye on the revenue ball and weren’t thinking about how to write a piece of legislation that would guarantee them that money,” he explained. “So, they wrote it saying, “If you’re offering a plastic bag that’s less than 4.0 mil thick, then you have to charge ten cents for it starting August 1.”
“And what they didn’t anticipate was they wrote the law in such a way as to give the stores total control,” he added. “If they can get $50 million dollars like the Democrats in Connecticut anticipate collecting in revenues, then they’re psyched.”
Feinburg said it will be interesting to see if special legislative sessions over the next couple of months will try to fill the loophole created in the law.