First Community In N.Y. To Enact Law Ready To Slap $1,000 Fines On Offenders

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Bye, bye plastic bags!

A Long Island community is about to become New York’s first to ban plastic shopping bags, and that has some wondering what could be next.

It is the oldest settlement in the state, and starting Sunday, Southampton will be the first to ban plastic shopping bags. Residents will now have to B.Y.O.B. — bring your own bag.

Stores could face up to a $1,000 fine if they do not abide by the new law. When asked how such a statute will be enforced, Southampton Village Administrator Stephen Funsch said the community has a plan.

“We have code enforcers that are on staff that will be going around to the various merchants to make sure they are in compliance,” he told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

The small plastic bags used for fruits and vegetables, and the large industrial plastic bags used for yard cleanup are not a part of the ban.

Following a year of public hearings, the ban was given a thumb’s up.

“We’re thrilled. Plastic bags are a major pollution source for beaches, bays, park lands, highways, neighborhoods and communities,” said Adrienne Esposito, of Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment.

The campaign actually got the ball rolling following documentation stating plastics posed a choking threat to wildlife, a suffocation risk to marine life, can clog streams and create litter.

“I think it is all good, I think it’s all for the best. I’m really proud of the town,” said resident Julia Gruen.

So it’s down to the wire as merchants remove plastic shopping bags and put hundreds of reusable bags on sale. Shoppers receive a nickel rebate for each one brought into the store. Merchants are stocking bundles of recycled paper bags at 5 cents a piece.

Some said the plastic bag ban is a good thing, while some others contend it is big brother intruding.

The village will be lenient until everyone gets accustomed to the new law then scofflaws will be fined, or even spend two weeks in jail.

Good for the environment or too much government intrusion?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…