HARTFORD, CT – Today, Environment Committee co-chairs state Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) and state Representative Mike Demicco (D-Farmington) were joined by fellow lawmakers, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment at a press conference to unveil the details of legislation to ban single-use plastic bags.
“As municipalities across the state enact bans on single-use plastic bags it sends a clear message that action must be taken,” said Sen. Cohen. “The time is now to pass legislation that will ban these bags that are contributing to pollution in our oceans and forests, as well as on our highways, beaches and in our parks. This bill will get us one step closer to ensuring that our environment and wildlife are not harmed by plastic bags and provides Connecticut’s businesses with enough time to find environmentally conscious alternatives.”
Senate Bill 1003, “An Act Concerning the Use of Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags,” will prohibit stores from providing and/or selling plastic single-use carryout bags at the point of sale. It will also require any paper single-use carryout bag to be 100 percent recyclable and have at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content. Paper bags will also be required to conspicuously display, “please reuse and recycle this bag,” on the bag.
SB 1003 will go into effect upon passage, setting these changes in motion for a state ban by July 1, 2021. The bill passed the Environment Committee by a bipartisan 25-4 vote on March 25. This legislation awaits action by the state Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate anticipates hearing the proposal this week. Rep. Demicco said this legislation will curb the single-use plastic habit that is harming the environment.
“There is a dire need to address the single-use plastics our society uses on a daily basis and acknowledge that it directly impacts our environment, waterways and wildlife,” said Rep. Demicco.
Single-use plastic bags contribute to pollution at parks, beaches, roads, waterways and can easily be swept into storm drains and cause severe blockages. According to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, these single-use bags do not fully break down and are oftentimes mistaken as food by aquatic wildlife. State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) spoke at the press conference and said a plastic bag ban will greatly benefit the state.
“Ten years ago, my hometown became the first municipality in Connecticut to ban plastic bags,” said Sen. Haskell. “It’s about time we bring the ban to the state level. Plastic bags pose a tangible threat to our environment, and Hartford needs to stand up for communities that rely on the Long Island Sound. I’m grateful for the hard work of my colleagues on the Environment Committee as well as the many activists in my community who have worked on this issue for years. Together, I’m hopeful we can cross the finish line and adopt more sustainable habits.”
Single-use paper bags pose a risk to the environment as well, as 14 million trees are cut down annually and these single-use paper bags take up more space in the municipal solid waste stream than plastic bags, according to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Louis Burch, the Connecticut Program Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the time is now to pass legislation to rid our state of single-use checkout bags.
“It’s time to make single-use checkout bags a thing of the past in Connecticut,” said Burch. “The dominoes are falling all around us—more than 15 towns in CT have taken action to eliminate plastic bags, and a dozen more stand poised to do the same. Now it’s the state’s turn to kick the plastic bag habit. The people want the state to pass an effective bag law; one that eliminates plastic pollution and promotes reusable bag use. The people of Connecticut are ready to give up single-use bags for good. Now it’s time for state lawmakers to answer the call.”
Currently, New York, California and Hawaii have statewide single-use plastic bag bans. Across the country, cities and towns are implementing their own bans and across the state, Hamden, Mansfield, Middletown, New Canaan, New Britain, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Greenwich and Westport have passed single-use plastic bag bans.
About Christine Cohen: Sen. Cohen was first elected in 2018 to represent the 12th Senate District which consists of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford. Christine is a small business owner; the proud owner of Cohen’s Bagel Company.