EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – After several months in limbo, the proposed ban on plastic bags in Tuckahoe retail stores is set to come to a vote next week.
The bill was proposed in March by Trustee Stephen Quigley, the lone Democrat on the Board of Trustees. The legislation was inspired by a similar law in Rye that was passed in 2011.
The ban would make Tuckahoe the second municipality in Westchester County to ban single-use plastic bags at retail outlets. Mamaroneck has also proposed similar legislation, but their has not been a vote yet.
If passed, the ordinance would be enacted as of March 9, six months after the vote. Violators would then be subjected to fines from code enforcement officers. The first violation would be a warning, with the second carrying a $100 fine, the third a $250 fine and all subsequent offenses would lead to fines as high as $500.
Quigley said that businesses will have plenty of time before the ordinance is strictly enforced.
Money collected through the law would be used to aid environmental projects in the village, which will be determined by the Board of Trustees at a later date.
Despite the potential positive impacts in the environment, small business owners in Tuckahoe have not expressed much support for the bill.
“As a business owner, paper bags are much more expensive than plastic. Ultimately this might have an effect on our bottom line,” one restaurant owner on Columbus Avenue said “What gives our government the right to determine how we conduct business?”
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."
An informal poll conducted by The Daily Voice in March found that nearly 60 percent of readers were in favor of the ban, with the rest staunchly opposing it.
“I think that it’s important to be aware of the future and environment, but I just don’t think there will be a big impact if we ban plastic bags,” resident Jim Forde said near Village Hall on Tuesday. “There are other more pressing issues we should be working on.”