why Ban plastic bags?

Plastic bags are the number one consumer item in the world.  One million plastic bags are produced every minute.  Unfortunately, while the average plastic bag is used for twelve minutes, it can impact the Earth for centuries.  According to the United Nations Environment Program, eight million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean each year, and 80% of this marine debris starts from a land-based source.  In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.  The 260 species that are affected by plastic waste include whales, birds, seals, and turtles who die due to entanglement or mistaking plastic bags for food.  Plastic pollution poses a threat to human health as well.  The World Health Organization has begun to research the spread and impact of microplastics, which are created as plastic breaks down into tiny pieces.  Trillions of microplastics end up in the ocean, where they enter the food chain, resulting in seafood eaters consuming 11,000 pieces annually.  


Will a ban place a financial burden on consumers or businesses?

There will not be a financial burden on businesses, as the fee on paper bags will compensate for the extra cost of these bags.  In addition, with an increase in the use of reusable bags, businesses will have to buy fewer paper bags.  Consumers can avoid the fee by bringing their own bags, and reusable bags will be made more accessible to all consumers, including lower-income and elderly citizens.  


what is the difference between paper and plastic bags?

While the goal of the ordinance is to increase the use of reusable bags, paper bags will continue to be offered in stores.  The environmental impact of paper bags is significantly less severe than plastic bags.  Paper bags are recyclable and biodegradable.  They do not have as large an impact on the ocean, wildlife, or municipal litter.  However, paper bags still have an environmental footprint, as they require trees to be cut down, and large amounts of energy and water to be produced.  Therefore, a retail compensation will be placed on paper bags to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags rather than using paper bags.  


why is there a COMPENSATION on paper checkout bags? 

The purpose of the retail compensation on paper checkout bags is to encourage customers to bring reusable bags and reduce their dependence on any type of single-use checkout bag, whether it is plastic or paper.  The majority of municipalities that have recently passed bans included a fee on paper bags, as the most effective way to institute an ordinance is a ban on plastic bags coupled with a small fee on paper bags.  In addition, the fee reimburses retailers for the extra costs of transitioning to paper bags.   


is recycling plastic bags a better solution?

Plastic bags clog and break recycling machines, sorting is necessary and costly, and quality and cleanliness are necessary and difficult to maintain.  According to Waste Management, only 1% of plastic bags are returned to recycling.  While there are plastic bag recycling bins at all major grocery stores, large retailers and pharmacies, the majority of bags are never recycled and are disposed of improperly; most end up in landfills or waterways. 


how will a plastic bag ban benefit the Guilford community?

Guilford is well known and appreciated for its natural beauty and preserved areas.  It is the home to critical ecosystems, river preserves, and a variety of wildlife. In addition, Guilford has a direct impact on the ocean due to its location along the Long Island Sound.  It is Guilford's responsibility to keep our beaches clean and decrease our plastic consumption, as the majority of debris in the ocean came from land-based sources. Plastic bags pose a threat to the wildlife and marine life in Guilford and the Long Island Sound, the health of our ecosystems, and the cleanliness of our woods, rivers, and shoreline.  In addition, a ban on plastic bags would decrease litter, decrease the risk of plastic contamination in our food, reduce the risk of bags clogging storm drains, and raise awareness about plastic pollution.  

 


what if i forget my reusable bag?

The purpose of the ordinance is to change the habits of constituents.  New habits take time to get used to, so after a while, bringing reusable bags will become second nature (like fastening your seatbelt).  If you forget your bag, reusable bags will be available for purchase at grocery stores at a low cost (around $0.99). However, keeping reusable bags in your car or a collapsible bag in your purse can help you remember.