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Supporters of March 1 plastic bag ban say more publicity is needed

Keng Susumpow

The ban on single-use plastic bags at supermarkets and other shops takes effect in just under a month. Supporters say the state’s environmental agency has not done enough to prepare the public for the shift. 

After March 1, New Yorkers will need to get into the habit of bringing reusable bags with them to the grocery store and to other retailers like Target and Walmart. 

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said she’s been informally surveying the shops she frequents and has found there’s a lack of awareness about the upcoming change. She said a larger public relations effort is needed.  

“I expect we are going to have a lot of pushback in the first three weeks,” Fahy said. “We’re going to probably get some negative feedback those first few weeks as we try to transition.”  

Supporters say Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s environmental agency needs to do more in the next month to get the word out.  

Liz Moran with the New York Public Interest Research Group and a backer of the ban, predicts once people adapt, they’ll like it better than using plastic. 

“These laws are wildly popular once they are implemented,” Moran said.  

The state’s largest grocery store chains, including Wegmans, Hannaford and Price Chopper, have taken steps to get ready.

Wegmans eliminated plastic bags on Jan. 27 and charges 5 cents per paper bag. The other two chains will begin charging for paper bags in March.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.