Tompkins County Considers Paper Bag Fee

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) –  Tompkins County legislature conducts a public hearing tonight night about a proposed nickel fee on paper bags.

A state ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect in March 1, 2020. The law  allows local municipalities to impose a five cent fee on paper bags.

Peteruetz - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

(PHOTO: Peteruetz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

County legislator Deborah Dawson chairs the legislature’s Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee. She sees the fee as a way to help reduce landfill waste.

“You know if we just substitute single-use paper bags for single-use plastic bags we might be kicking a can down the road into a different problem but we’re still gonna have a waste problem,” she said.

Dawson said the goal is reduction not elimination. “We don’t want to encourage people to just switch from plastic bags to paper bags,” she said. “We want to incentivize them to use re-usable bags.”

Without the fee, Dawson said there is a risk Tompkins County will just swap one trash problem for another.