Around New England

Big Y Banishing Plastic Bags

July 30, 2019

Springfield-based supermarket chain Big Y is planning to eliminate thin-film plastic bags from all its approximately 80 stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut starting Thursday, August 1 – and plans to start charging customers 10 cents apiece for paper bags.

The company is trying to nudge customers into buying reusable shopping bags, which may be made of cotton, bamboo, hemp, polypropylene, nylon, or polyester, and is recommending that customers not only remember to bring them to the store each time they go shopping but maintain them, as well.

“Customers can keep their reusable bags in shopping-shape by washing them regularly with soap and water or disinfectant wipes,” Big Y said in a press release.

Two registered dieticians appear in a minute-long YouTube video about how to care for the bags in between trips to the grocery store.

“Unwashed bags can harbor bacteria which can lead to food-borne illness,” one of the dieticians says in the video.

As for the 10 cents-per-bag charge:

“This fee is in an effort to promote the use of reusable bags instead of paper, which also cause harm to the environment,” the company said.

The company is touting the move as part of what it calls Big Y’s Green Initiative.

Supporters of banning thin-film plastic bags say many of them end up in waterways and in forests, where they may pose a hazard to animals.

Opponents doubt the purported harmful effects of thin-film plastic bags and decry the inconvenience of replacing them.

Several dozen towns and cities in Massachusetts have banned thin-film plastic bags, most commonly through a vote of a board, Town Meeting, or city council. A bill before the state Legislature, Massachusetts House Bill 3945, seeks to ban thin-film plastic bags statewide.

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