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Release Date: November 10, 2014

 Should plastic bags be banned?  For about a year the Conservation Advisory Council, made up of Greenburgh residents, has been studying the issue. This is their report.  They recommend a fee, not a ban to discourage plastic bag use by shopping centers
Do you think the town or county should be more aggressive and ban plastic bags –an action that other localities around the country have embraced? Or, do you support a fee imposed when people obtain the bags. Exceptions would be made for raw meat, fish and the like.
  The Conservation Advisory Council requested that I share their report with the community and seek your feedback. Your comments will be shared with all the Town Board members and members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators which is considering this issue.
Starting a year ago at the request of Supervisor Feiner, the CAC undertook a study of the impacts of reusable bag usage.  While the environmental impact of plastic bags is easily visible, study showed that the aggregate negative impact on global warming of paper bags was equal to that of plastic bags.  Additionally when the CAC met with representatives of major supermarket chains with outlets in The Town of Greenburgh, they indicated use of paper bags created storage and possible vermin problems for them.  They expressed concerns about the negative economic impact of legislation that was Town based verses regional.  The CAC came to view the problem as not being what the bag was made of but rather that it was used only once.  Currently not just in Europe but in large parts of Asia as well, shoppers do not expect the merchant to provide a carry bag for a purchase.
As local residents, we considered how we would be affected by being expected to provide our own carry bags.  Although we all used reusable bags,  to a person we had to admit there were times when we forget to bring a reusable bag or didn’t have one with us.  We, also, had concerns about using our reusable bags for certain messy items like fish and meat.  In response to a e-blast survey by Supervisor Feiner, we heard from a doctor who indicated that the items more than being messy could be a source of food contamination.
For these reasons, we believe that the use of reusable bags is the solution understanding that there are times when a reusable bag may not be available or the healthiest choice.  Therefore we recommend a fee for a one time use bag with exceptions for certain items.  This approach should result in a very large reduction in the use of one time use bags without imposing a situation where the shopper stopping on the way home from work without a reusable bag will have to juggle the purchased items in his hands or the ask the merchant to break the law.  
TO:   Supervisor Paul Feiner
         Greenburgh Town Council   
FROM:  Greenburgh Conservation Advisory Council
DATE:  November 10, 2014
RE:     Conservation Advisory Council Resolution: Mitigation of the Use of Disposable Bags in the Town of Greenburgh

At the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) meeting on October 23, 2014, the resolution below was approved.  Please note that the CAC resolution differs from legislation currently being proposed to the Westchester County Legislature.  We believe the proposed legislation is a good start, however it:
(1) needs to cover both environmentally harmful paper bags, as well as plastic bags,
(2) should be a fee, rather than a ban, and
 (3) needs to incorporate public health exceptions for bags used for raw fish, meat and the like.
Whereas, in the structure of the Town of Greenburgh's government, the Town Board is advised on environmental matters by the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC). The CAC is composed of seven citizens, appointed by the Town Board, who are long-time residents of the Town;
Whereas, for the past year, as part of its environmental mandate, the CAC has been considering ways to increase the use of re-usable bags and reduce the use of plastic and paper disposable bags;
Whereas, the CAC has conducted extensive research of available literature to understand the positive and negative impacts associated with increasing the use of re-usable bags and limiting or removing the use of disposable plastic and paper bags in a community;
Whereas, neighboring Westchester Communities such as The Village of Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Rye, Hastings-on-Hudson in addition to Major U.S. Cities like Washington D.C. and New York City and the State of California have all adopted or are proposing bag legislation with the intent to reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags;
Whereas, members of the CAC have met with representatives of major supermarket chains with outlets in The Town of Greenburgh;
Whereas, informal polling by Supervisor Feiner of Greenburgh residents resulted in an even split as to being for or against adoption of Town regulations to reduce the use of disposable paper and plastic bags;
Now, Therefore, the CAC RECOMMENDS to the Town Board that:
A multi-pronged approach be adopted in an effort to reduce the use of environmentally harmful bags (including both disposable paper and plastic bags):
  1.  Continue to support and encourage educational programs provided by the Town of Greenburgh and the Greenburgh Nature Center (GNC).
  1.  Propose a fee, rather than a ban, so as not to prevent commercial transactions such as a commuter on the way home without an available reusable bag.
  1.  Monitor other communities to learn best practices so that the Town of Greenburgh is prepared if it so chooses to adopt similar legislation to increase the use of re-usable bags and to reduce the use of disposable paper and plastic bags.  However, the CAC feels that a County or State Wide approach would be the most effective, so as to not economically disadvantage commercial enterprises in any particular municipality.
Theresa Mae Tori
CAC Chairperson  
Visit our web site at www.greenburghny.com and view archived Supervisors Reports.
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