Plastic Bag Tax Affecting Both Restaurants and Consumers

August 1 marked the beginning of the need for free plastic bags in Connecticut. Shoppers will have to pay an extra 10 cents for plastic bags.

The state expects to generate more than $27 million within the first year. Single-use plastic bags will be phased out entirely by July 2021.

Many shoppers and business owners knew of the tax but forgot Thursday marked the start of the new law.

Carmen Bauza loves the luxury of grabbing a plastic bag when picking up her lunch order and using them for other household chores.

“I thought it was only supermarkets and stuff,” said Bauza. “I just found out now that it is restaurants that are also charging for plastic bags.”

Bauza frequents many restaurants during the week to pick up her lunch and says she’s skeptical about the increase on her food receipts.

“My question is ‘are they going to start charging for plastic silverware,” said Bauza. “I just hope we get to a point where I’m walking out with my food in my hands or something.”

The state of Connecticut is not looking to charge customers for utensils but want to emphasize the need for buying eco-friendly bags.

Business Owner Tatianna Pollard says she understands both sides of the argument.

“As a business owner we pay for all of our supplies,” said Pollard “At the same time, I don’t think as a business you should charge your customers for paper.”

According to the Department of Revenue, restaurants must enforce the tax. Otherwise, restaurants can expect to face severe penalties if their audit does not state a charge for the 10 cent tax.

Gov. Ned Lamont is also chiming in on the push for reusable bags, issuing this statement:

“We want Connecticut to continue to be a leader in addressing climate change and environmentally conscious initiatives. Phasing out single-use plastic bags in an important step in continuing that effort. While it will be an adjustment for businesses and consumers, it ultimately will be beneficial to the health and environment of our state.”

The push for consumers to use eco-friendly bags has a lot of pushback from different demographics.

Ruth Bermudz walks to purchase her groceries and says it’s difficult going back and forth to stop and shop right up the street.

“It’s going to be very heavy carrying all of those groceries,” said Bermudz. “Plus, I have to find a way to carry my groceries.”

It’s the price that’s got Bermudz over the edge.

“It adds up to everything else that is so expensive now we have to purchase the bags,” said Bermudz. “If you add that 10 cents up it’s very expensive.”

The fee will affect those on supplemental nutrition assistance program also known as SNAP and the Women, Infants and Children program, known as WIC.

Grocery stores like Stop and Shop are giving customers a break by not charging 10 cents for paper bags until September 3.

Stop and Shop, Big Y and Shoprite have already banned plastic bag, but are selling reusable bags for a discount to accommodate shoppers.

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