Suffolk prepares for plastic, paper bag fee

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Suffolk County shoppers who choose to use plastic or paper shopping bags will have to pay an additional fee beginning next month.

In Suffolk, about 70 percent of people use throwaway plastic bags. Only 5 percent use reusable bags. Environmentalists say plastic bags are terrible for wildlife.

Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says shoppers should avoid the fee entirely and bring their own bags.

"You'll save the environment and save money," she says. The new bag law will require shoppers to pay 5 cents per plastic bag at the register.

Jay Peltz, of Food Industry Alliance NY, represents grocery, drug and convenience stores throughout the country. He says representatives have been meeting for months to plan a smooth transition.

Jim Erikson, a supervisor at the Giunta's Meat Farms supermarket in Hauppauge, says managers will be stationed at the front of his store for the first two weeks to explain the new law to shoppers.

In 2010, Washington, D.C. enacted a similar plastic bag fee, resulting in an 85 percent drop-off in plastic bag distribution.

The new law has the support of some of the county's younger residents.

"We hope people begin to replace their plastic bags with reusable ones, creating a cleaner future for all of us," says Sabrina Kramer, a student at Northport High School.

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