Mamaroneck Split on Plastic Bag Ban

Mamaroneck Split on Plastic Bag Ban

MAMARONECK, New York, April 27, 2013 (ENS) - A ban on plastic bags went into effect March 31 in the Village of Mamaroneck, a suburb of New York City on Long Island Sound.

The new law, passed in August 2012 by the Board of Trustees, forbids retailers to hand out single-use plastic bags at checkout.

Instead, stores in the Village are required to provide recyclable paper bags or reusable bags; and violators could face a fine up to $150.

As its reason for imposing the ban, the Village of Mamaroneck states, "Plastic bags often are discarded into the environment and end up polluting our waterways, clogging sewers, endangering marine life and causing unsightly litter. These bags last hundreds of years in landfills and are a potential source of harmful chemicals when they do break down."

Monica Barach, a member of the Village of Mamaroneck's Committee for the Environment, says there has been widespread support for this initiative among the Village's 18,000+ residents.

The Village of Mamaroneck is located partially within the Town of Mamaroneck and partially within the Town of Rye.

In the Town of Mamaroneck, the larger jurisdiction that includes part of the Village, officials have been testing public opinion on a plastic bag ban for months.

The ban is opposed by the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, a statewide trade association that represents the grocery industry.

The Alliance is demanding a formal environmental impact review and says the proposal, if enacted, would be pre-empted by New York State law.

The proposed law is "pre-empted because state Legislature has implicitly articulated its intent to occupy the field of plastic bag regulation," Dan Hollis, the attorney representing the trade group, wrote in a letter to the Town Board.

"A ban is the most extreme form of regulation," said Jay Peltz, vice president of public affairs for the Alliance. "It rests on false, exaggerated and uncorroborated claims."

The ban's supporters "oversimplify a complex environmental issue," Peltz told lohud.com, a northern Westchester County online news outlet.

Peltz said that the proposed ban would place an unfair burden on retail stores struggling with low profit margins, higher income taxes and minimum wages and competition.

The neighboring towns and villages that have passed plastic bag bans - Rye, Larchmont and the Village of Mamaroneck - have not prepared formal environmental impact statements.

The Town of Mamaroneck canceled a public hearing on the issue scheduled for May 1.

At its April 17 meeting the Town Board said it canceled the public hearing to review additional information on the proposed legislation and will schedule a new public hearing date.

Supervisor Nancy Seligson, who heads the municipal government, said the Town Board needed more time to review and "fine-tune" the proposed law.

The Town of Mamaroneck, founded in 1661, is one of Westchester's first settlements. A bedroom community 27 miles northeast of New York City, the town has become home to more than 29,000 residents.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.
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Cover photo: Mamaroneck, NY. Author: Doug Kerr. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Uploaded to flickr.com