State's plastic bag ban on begin March 1

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Starting in a few weeks, throw-away plastic bags will no longer be available at supermarkets and many other retail stores.

The state's ban on plastic bags takes effect March 1.

The goal is to remove plastic from the waste stream. Many of the bags end up as roadside litter or in waterways.

But the state is still grappling with the issue of allowing thicker plastic bags, which are more durable, and people might reuse over again

But environmental groups are urging the state not to make any changes to the law that was passed last year.

"We're afraid that if they say OK, you can give out bags of a certain thickness, there's an incentive for stores to make thicker bags and give them out for free," says Jordan Christensen, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Poly Pak Industries is a Melville firm that manufacturers thick, plastic bags with advertising on them that would be banned in New York under the new state law.

Poly Pak Industries owner Peter Levy says he hopes to get an exemption. He says unlike the flimsy, one-time use bags seen in supermarkets, his are reusable and recyclable.

Levy argues that they are far better for the environment than the bags the state is encouraging consumers to use every time they shop.

He also has no problem with banning the thin, throwaway plastic bags. But he believes the law goes too far and should allow the sturdier, reusable plastic bags he produces.

Under the law, counties have the option of allowing stores to sell paper bags for 5 cents each. Suffolk County did opt to allow that, but Nassau County did not opt in.

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