Tag Archive | "plastic bags"

East Hampton Plans to Ban Plastic Bags By Earth Day

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PIC DAVID CRUMP.TESCO PLASTIC BAGS

By Mara Certic

While banning plastic bags may not be the lynchpin in solving the world’s environmental crisis, according to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby it is at least a step in the right direction.

East Hampton’s celebration of Recycling Awareness Month was in full swing at their first work session of the month on Tuesday, October 7, when Ms. Overby discussed a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.

“It’s a small step, it’s not going to solve all the problems,” Ms. Overby said. “It will be something that I think is going to be important to start making those steps,” she said.

The towns of Southampton, Southold and Shelter Island have all put their support behind a regional ban on plastic bags, the world’s largest consumer item. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said last month the town will hold a public hearing on the ban the first week in December, and the idea is to implement a regional ban by Earth Day, 2015.

John Botos of East Hampton’s Natural Resources Department has been working with Ms. Overby on the draft legislation. Using data from the EPA, Mr. Botos estimates the town – excluding the village, which banned the bags back in 2011 – uses approximately 10 million bags a year.

Frank Dalene, president of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability Committee gave a few statistics from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment: the plastic offenders are used for an average of 12 minutes, he said, but they never fully break down, just becoming smaller and smaller particles of petrochemicals.

According to Mr. Dalene, 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuels and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water are needed to make the 100 billion plastic bags that American consumers use each year. As it stands today, there are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean, he said.

Ms. Overby has been working closely with business-owners, and added “We’re really delighted and happy because we really worked well with the business community.”

In fact Catherine Foley, who with her husband Stuart owns Air and Speed Surf Shop in Montauk, spoke up during Tuesday’s work session to lend her support to the ban. “The public is ready,” she said, “they just need continued encouragement, guidance and support.”

East Hampton Town Trustee and Chair of the Litter Committee Deborah Klughers did an online poll regarding the ban, she said, and found that 92-percent of her sample of the community were in favor of the ban. “It’s looking really good, it would be good for the planet,” she said.

Ms. Overby said she is still working on a draft of the public hearing for the ban, but welcomes anyone interested to take a look and give the board some feedback on it as written. In the meantime, the town is dedicated to helping to educate the public and business-owners about the ban and about the BYOB initiative – “bring your own bag.”

Ms. Klughers discussed some of the other activities going on in conjunction with recycling awareness month on Tuesday.  A “Kids Can Recycle” campaign has students in East Hampton Town competing to see who can collect and recycle the largest number of aluminum cans; the winning school will win an evergreen tree.

The last week of October will be dedicated to recycling cardboard, she said. Businesses, residents and even out-of-towners are invited to drop off their (flattened) cardboard at the town recycling centers during that week.

Ms. Klughers also announced the Trustees have begun a new, very different recycling campaign. “Don’t chuck it if you shuck it,” is the motto for the Trustees’ new seashell recycling initiative. Bivalve-enthusiasts are asked to drop off their clam, oyster and scallop shells for the town to reintroduce to the local waters in order to provide habitats for other sea creatures.

Mr. Botos announced the town has been awarded a $13,000 grant to install an electric car charging station outside town hall. Work on that, he said, may begin next month.

The town is working on different ways to educate the public about energy conservation and sustainability. Mr. Botos said their main priority now is to educate people about “phantom-load energy,” which is the energy used by appliances that are not running, but are plugged in.

Although a microwave might only be on for a couple of minutes a day, he explained, if it is plugged in, it is still drawing out energy and costing the homeowner. The Natural Resources Department is looking to use social media networks to spread this message and will be using the hashtags #unplugeasthampton and #unplugeh.

 

Regional Ban on Plastic Bags Could Be in Place by Earth Day

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By Mara Certic

The days of deciding between paper and plastic may be dwindling here on the East End, as local municipalities make plans to join together to enforce a regional ban on single-use plastic bags.

According to Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association is considering a ban on the bags that would span from Montauk Point to beyond the Shinnecock Canal.

Southampton and East Hampton Villages both banned the bags back in 2011, but none of the local towns have managed to adopt such a law thus far. Southampton Town has considered similar legislation in the past, but those discussions were initially struck down by the former Republican town board before they could be taken to public hearing.

Dieter von Lehsten, co-chair of Southampton’s Sustainability Committee, has been one of the people spearheading the movement to ban plastic. According to Mr. von Lehsten, the single-use plastic bag is the largest consumer item in the world.

In America, 105 billion single-use plastic bags are distributed every year; 23 million of those are given out in the Town of Southampton, and it is estimated that only 3ee to 4 percent of those bags are recycled, he said.

The rest of the bags are floating around, somewhere, Mr. von Lehsten said. Many of them get buried in landfills, but a large number of them are found in our bays and oceans.

A lot of plastic pollution shows up in large slow-moving currents called gyres. A large island of plastic has built up in the North Pacific Gyre. “In the center of this gyre sits an island, imagine twice the size of Texas,” Mr. von Lehsten said. According to Greenpeace, this trash island is made up “of everything from tiny pieces of plastic debris to large ghost nets lost by the fishing industry.”

Plastic contains toxic chemicals, which then get passed on to animals when they mistake the small petrochemical particles for food. According to Greenpeace, plastic often then accumulates in animals’ digestive tracts, essentially choking them. Sometimes, animals who mistakenly ingest plastic starve and die from a lack of nutrition. And now plastic has found its way into our food chain, Mr. von Lehsten said.

Mr. von Lehsten said he has been met by overwhelming support among community members and legislators when he has discussed this ban with individuals and civic associations.

“I had meetings in Southold, Shelter Island and East Hampton and talked to all councils in these areas and they are going to vote for the ban of the bag,” Mr. von Lehsten said to the members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on September 22.

“It is now just a question, who makes the first step,” he said. “It is another one of those dances of the politicians.”

“So now we really want to force the issue,” Mr. von Lehsten said, and added he has started a letter campaign to get individuals and associations to ask the town boards to ban the bags.

The sustainability committee is suggesting the BYOB campaign—bring your own bag. One day, he would like to see a ban on all plastic and Styrofoam, he said, “but you’ve got to start somewhere, and the worst culprit is the single-use plastic bag.”

Mr. von Lehsten hinted heavily that he suspects public hearings on the matter to begin at some point in October. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said a public hearing will be held in the first week of December in Southampton, with the hope of implementing the law by Earth Day, April 22, 2015.

After almost 100 municipalities in the Golden State prohibited the use of the synthetic bags, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the country’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags last week.

Bagging Plastic

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PIC DAVID CRUMP.TESCO PLASTIC BAGS

The Southampton Town Board will schedule a public hearing on a proposed plastic bag ban during the first week of December, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst announced at a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday.

Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chair of the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, gave a presentation to the CAC about the proposed ban. Southampton Town uses 23 million plastic bags every year, he said, and he estimates the town only recycles about 3 million of them.

“That still leaves 20 million bags that are somewhere,” he said. Plastic bags never disintegrate entirely, he explained, but instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Research has shown that fish eat the tiny plastic particles, which are now a part of the food chain.

Mr. von Lehsten also said the latest research has shown there is now more plastic in the ocean than plankton.

“It is a movement which is better to do from the bottom up,” he said, adding “the politicians depend on us because we are the electorate.” In California, 78 municipalities banned the bags, he said, which has resulted in a state-wide ban.

“We want to force the issue,” he said. Mr. von Lehsten and the sustainability committee have started a letter campaign to the town board to tell it to ban the bags.

Ms. Throne-Holst said the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association are on board with a regional ban. “I think it has a lot of value if it’s done regionally,” she said of the ban.

The East Hampton Town Board has not yet set a date for an informational meeting on a potential plastic bag ban but it will be in the next few months, Supervisor Larry Cantwell said on Tuesday.

According to Ms. Throne-Holst, the plan is to have the implementation date be Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

Paper or Cloth? Southampton Town Seeks to Ban Plastic Bags

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By Claire Walla

“In my opinion, we’re going to look back at this and question why we didn’t do this earlier,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said to her fellow council members.

Throne-Holst was speaking at a town board work session last Friday, December 9 in reference to a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags throughout the town of Southampton.

“I think the entire world is moving in this direction,” added Throne-Holst, a stanch proponent of the measure.

The proposal to ban plastic bags in the town of Southampton comes nearly six months after the first work session was held on the matter. In that time, the town’s sustainability committee chairman Tip Brolin sought more information from the town’s business community and consumers, specifically addressing concerns many businesses initially expressed regarding the high price of replacing plastic with recyclable paper.

The town’s proposed plastic ban initially would effectively ban single-use plastic bags less than two mils thick, and less than 28 inches by 36 inches in size. Smaller plastic bags — like those used to hold fish and produce — would not be affected by the ban.

The legislation also originally included provisions that would have allowed stores to carry paper bags made of 40 percent recyclable materials, a stipulation that essentially mirrors similar legislation already enacted in Westport, Conn. (Most grocery stores use paper bags that are made of 30 percent recyclable materials.)

“I do generally agree with the fact that we need to get greener,” said Debbie Longnecker of Cromer’s Market on Noyac Road.

However, she expressed some concern with the added price tag associated with purchasing reusable bags and paper bags.

At one point, she explained, “We gave reusable bags away. However, not everyone brings them back.”

She said the store’s winter clientele is more inclined to get into the habit of consistently bringing reusable bags when they shop. But she said it’s a different story with the summer people who are in the area for a short period of time and less inclined to bring their own bags when they shop.

“I think a lot more planning has to be done before [this law is enacted],” she added. “There needs to be a cost-effective alternative before you say to people: You can’t do this anymore.”

Partially quelling Longnecker’s concern, Brolin explained last week that the proposed legislation will in fact allow stores to use the less expensive paper bags made of 30 percent recyclable materials. Plus, he added that follow-up surveys with nearly 1,700 shoppers in Westport, Conn. revealed that 53 percent were consistently using reusable bags after the plastic ban went into effect. Brolin compared this number to the nearby Norwalk/Wilton area — which has not implemented a plastic bag ban — where the number is closer to 10 percent.

Should Southampton Town decide to implement legislation that bans single-use plastic bags, it would follow in the footsteps of both Southampton Village, which banned plastic last spring, and East Hampton Village, which adopted similar legislation last month. The legislation proposed for the town would essentially be the same as that adopted in the Village of Southampton, except that paper bags would only have to be made with 30 percent recyclable materials as opposed to 40 percent.

Before adopting the legislation, Brolin reported that the town initially discussed promoting the use of reusable shopping bags by educating the community on the harms of single-use plastic bags — the fact that most of the bags are not recycled and are piling up in landfills and littering the oceans, thereby potentially harming at least 260 different sea species. However, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that after a lackluster response from the business community, she feels the best tactic at this point is to adopt the legislation and spend six months before the policy is enacted making residents aware of this change.

According to Liz Plouff, the town’s sustainability coordinator, education will come in the way of press releases and conferences, as well as a partnership with SeaTV, the town government television channel. In addition, Plouff has suggested the town hand-out reusable bags to town residents at no charge. She said the town could finance this measure by getting local stores and businesses to pay a small fee in exchange for getting their logos printed on the bags.

The town board will hold its first official public hearing on the proposed plastic bag legislation on Thursday, December 22.