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At NB Big Y on Earth Day, State Hails Plastic Bag Bill Passage
At a press conference this morning outside North Branford Big Y, (l-r) State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. was joined by Big Y Store Director Mary Ann Granata, CT Food Association president Wayne Pesce, and additional Big Y staff including Asst. Customer Service Manager Amber Lieto (at microphone) and Assistant Store Director Glenn Bisson (far right). (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound)
On Earth Day today, State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. (D, District 12) and the president of the state's grocery store association came to North Branford Big Y to announce the bi-partisan passage of an environmental bill which takes aim at reducing waste from single-use plastic bags.
Kennedy told Zip06/The Sound the North Branford grocery store was selected for the April 22 Earth Day visit because Big Y is a "good citizen" making strides toward reducing environmental impacts, adding, "...we want to take what we're learning in stores like this and replicate it across the state."
In his announcement at the store's front entrance this morning, Kennedy also said of Big Y, "...they have already undertaken some really innovative solutions to try to reduce, reuse and recycle not just plastic bags but all of their packaging waste. These are programs that we want to highlight."
Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association (CFA) said the state's grocery industry has been undertaking steps to reduce the use of plastic bags, and that effort has just vaulted ahead, thanks to the Senate's passage of the new bill two days ago. CFA and the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association (CRMA) worked with Kennedy to negotiate the bill.
"The bill that the senator has put forth will reduce almost 300 million bags over the next five years out of Connecticut landfills. We look forward to that reduction, and to continue to reduce our carbon footprint as a grocery community," said Pesce.
Kennedy said Connecticut uses about 950 million plastic bags annually.
"Many of these bags end up littering our streets and polluting our waterways," said Kennedy. "I am glad that we were able to work with industry representatives to craft this effective, bipartisan legislation that will provide critical relief to our environment."
Pesce told Zip06/The Sound the effort to work on the bill with Kennedy was "extremely collaborative."
"We've been working with the senator for probably a year and a half on this issue," Pesce said. "From the grocery community's perspective, it's part of our ethos to try to reduce, reuse and recycle. We're doing a lot of things already. This just formalizes that relationship, and I want to thank the senator for his leadership on this issue."
Kennedy, who represents Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Madison, Killingworth and Durham in the senate, asked North Branford Big Y Assistant Customer Service Manager Amber Lieto to share some of the store's recycling and waste reduction initiatives. They include promoting reusable bags to customers, packing at least eight items per single plastic bag, using thinner, smaller plastic bags when possible, and encouraging customers to reuse and recycle bags.
"We do have a lot of people here in North Branford recycling and reusing their bags," said Lieto. "It has been very successful so far."
Senate Bill 226 passed out of the Senate this week with a bipartisan vote of 29-2. The bill requires that, by July 1, 2018, half of the single-use plastic bags and paper bags in Connecticut stores must be 100 percent recyclable, be made with at least 25 percent recycled material, and designed to withstand multiple uses. The requirement extends to all plastic bags by July 1, 2020. In addition, CFA and CRMA will enter into a memorandum of understanding with the State Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection to work toward a 33 percent reduction in bag distribution by 2021, at no additional cost to consumers.