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NY plastic bag ban: Some retailers worry convenience stores will turn into ‘inconvenience’ stores

Tom Magnarelli
The Armory Square Deli in downtown Syracuse.

Some convenience store owners in New York State are worried about the new plastic bag ban going into effect this weekend. Their concerns are over the possible cost increase and limited availability of paper bags, as stores make the switch. 

New York is not the only state banning plastic bags. That's caused a spike in demand for paper bags, according to Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

"The problem is there is not enough inventory and production capacity to meet that demand," Calvin said.

He said convenience store owners trying to order paper bags are being told either none, or a limited amount are currently available.

“There is going to be a pinch come March 1," Calvin said. "There may be stores where you won’t be able to get a paper bag and your only option will be to buy or bring a reusable bag or carry stuff out in your arms.”

Unlike a trip to the supermarket, Calvin said visits to convenience stores are usually unplanned and people don’t typically bring a reusable bag.

He also said paper bags can cost retailers six or seven times as much as plastic bags. He said prices are climbing due to the paper bag shortage.

That’s a concern for Adam Tayeh. He works at the Armory Square Deli in Syracuse. Right now, they only have small paper bags, which won’t fit a two-liter soda or a six-pack of beer.

“I feel like we’re going to need bigger ones in order to do those and that’s just going to make convenience stores spend more on it,” Tayeh said.

He’s also expecting a lot of complaints from customers when the ban goes into effect. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.