BRANFORD, CT —The ban the plastic bag movement reeled in its biggest fish yet Monday when Stop & Shop announced its 91 stores in Connecticut will stop offering single-use plastic bags to customers on Thursday.
Beginning on Thursday, Stop & Shop customers that bring in a plastic bag to be recycled can receive a free reusable bag in exchange, according to a press release.
“We know that the environmental impact of plastics is something our customers and communities care about here in Connecticut, so we’re eliminating single-use plastic bags well ahead of the state-mandated timeline — and we’re also placing a 10-cent fee on paper bags to encourage our customers to make the switch to reusable,” Rudy DiPietro, senior vice president of Operations for Stop & Shop, said.
However, the grocery chain appreciates the time it might take to make an adjustment and will be “waiving the fee on paper throughout the month of August at most stores, offering reusable bag giveaways, and doing everything we can to help make the transition an easy one,” DiPietro said.
The announcement Monday comes as the state prepares to implement a new tax that will charge customers 10 cents to carry out purchases in plastic or paper bags.
The tax that takes effect – also on Thursday – will be in place until June 2021, when retailers will be prohibited from providing plastic bags.
Stop & Shop, based in Quincy, Massachusetts, said it will offer paper bags for free during August, with a 10-cent fee on paper bags beginning in September.
Stop & Shop’s move comes a few weeks after Big Y Foods announced it will eliminate single-use plastic bags at the checkouts from its more than 80 supermarket locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts on also on Thursday, quicker than its original timetable.
Big Y has been complying with single-use plastic bag bans in several Massachusetts communities since 2014.
Stop & Shop and Big Y are not the first big chain to make this move. National chains Costco and Aldi, which both have stores in Connecticut, currently do not provide free single-use plastic bags.
The big chains are making this move, in part to the fact that a multitude of towns in Connecticut — and the state itself — have either passed legislation or are in the process of on plastic bag bans.
The statewide legislation signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont allows shoppers to continue to use plastic bags, if they like, for two more years until a total ban is called for, starting on Aug. 1, 2021.
But starting this Thursday, each plastic bag in Connecticut will come with a 10-cent tax under the statewide legislation.
The legislation also allows any towns that have passed ordinances on their own on plastic bag bans to supersede state law, as long as the town ordinances are equally or more restrictive than the state law passed.
Across the state, Hamden, Mansfield, Middletown, New Canaan, Norwalk. New Britain, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Greenwich, Westport, and Guilford, Branford, among others, have passed bans on single-use plastic bags.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year. When not disposed of properly, this plastic can end up in waterways and forests where it can harm wildlife and our local communities.