SCHENECTADY — A major user of plastic shopping bags is going to stop using them again.
Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarkets said Thursday the changeover would take effect Saturday in its New York stores.
New York state enacted a ban on single-use plastic bags five months ago. The ban contained exceptions for numerous types and uses of plastic bags, such as for retail sales of everything from cold cuts to kumquats, but not for the familiar two-handled thin-film plastic shopping bag that supermarket cashiers have loaded with purchased groceries for decades.
With significant fanfare, and education programs to get shoppers to use reusable bags, and gnashing of teeth by retailers that didn’t want to lose the option of plastic, the bag ban went into effect March 1 in New York.
Many will remember that March 1 was also the day the first known case of COVID-19 in New York was officially diagnosed.
Faced with urgent concerns about sanitation as the pandemic rapidly worsened in New York, state officials announced they’d stop enforcing the plastic bag ban, and the plastic bags returned to many stores.
Some retailers wouldn’t even allow customers to use their own reusable bags, over sanitary concerns.
Faced with a shortage of paper bags, and wanting to satisfy customers reluctant to use their own reusable bags, Schenectady-based Golub Corp. resumed use of plastic bags at checkouts in late March.
Golub Corp. supports the goal behind the plastic bag ban — reducing the environmental impact of the billions of plastic bags thrown away each year in New York — and decided to end its use of plastic before being required to do so by the state, which still has not said when it will resume enforcing the ban.
Price Chopper/Market 32 spokeswoman Mona Golub said in a news release: “Our confidence in resuming compliance in this new age was further bolstered when the [Centers for Disease Control] and a broad cross-section of the international medical community confirmed that the surface of clean reusable bags does not facilitate the transmission of COVID-19. Keeping our reusables clean, like disinfecting the surfaces we touch, is both a safety precaution and a personal responsibility.”
For those who don’t have their own reusable bags, single-use paper bags are available for purchase at 5 cents (handleless) or 15 cents (with handles) in the Golub supermarkets, as are reusable bags costing as little as 50 cents each.