TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – While the Village of Mamaroneck is set to become the second municipality in Westchester to ban single-use plastic bags at retail outlets, Tuckahoe continues to debate the merit of installing such a bill.
The Tuckahoe Board of Trustees continues to mull the bill proposed by Trustee Stephen Quigley, which would forbid plastic bags at retail establishments in the village. This would be part of a wider local effort, with Mamaroneck following the example set by Rye in 2011 .
The ordinance will be enacted six months after it is filed with the Office of the Secretary of State. Residents are welcome to bring their questions and concerns to the board at the April 8 meeting.
Violators would be subject to fines if caught by code enforcement officers. The first violation would be a warning; the second would result in a $100 fine, the third a $250 fine and all subsequent offenses would lead to fines up to $500.
Any fines that are collected would be used for an environmental purpose to be determined by the trustees. Retail stores found in violation would have the opportunity for a formal review.
According to the Clean Air Council, Americans use approximately one billion plastic non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags each year, only 12 percent of which were recycled in 2010.
Non-biodegradable plastic bags last hundreds of years in landfills and are a potential source of harmful chemicals when they do break down. Those bags are often discarded into the environment, polluting waterways, clogging sewers, endangering marine life and causing unsightly litter.
"Almost every environmental consequence has a human health consequence, from wild fires to global warming to the use of plastics," said Patti Wood, of Grassroots Environmental Education. "Every little piece of plastic that ends up in the oceans, which is a great amount, and plastics persist because they don't break down easily. As plastic photo degrades, it becomes a magnet for toxic chemicals like persistent organic pollutants."
Eliminating plastic bags could have a big effect on a local level -- old bags won't hang from tree branches, clog gutters and fill dumps.
“The intent is to increase the use of paper and reusable bags, thereby saving the environment from plastic bags that take years to compose,” Trustee Greg Luisi said.
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