‘Unintended Consequence’ of the Plastic Bag Tax; Shopping Baskets Going Missing From CT Stores

The state started charging a 10-cent fee for single-use plastic bags in August.

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The Connecticut Food Association is calling it an "unintended consequence" of the state's tax on plastic bags; Retailers are losing their plastic shopping baskets after people take the baskets to their cars and never return them.

“I don’t think a lot of people foresaw that the baskets would start disappearing when the law went into effect," said Brett Davis, store manager of the Geissler's Supermarket in Windsor.

Davis said the store has lost about 20 plastic baskets since they started charging for bags at check-out.

“They just say 'oh can I take it out to my car?'" explained Davis. "And quite a few of them have not returned.”

Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, said not every store is experiencing the problem, but the issue is not isolated to one area of the state either.

“It is widespread," said Pesce.

Pesce said members of the CFA brought the problem to his attention. He said one retailer has lost about 60 percent of its shopping baskets.

"Those are about $6 to $8 wholesale so everyone is walking out with $8 every time," said Pesce.

Pesce said the plastic bag fee has been successful overall. He estimates that the state is on track to eliminate 450 million bags this year.

The unintended consequences, though, will have to be solved by the supermarkets. Pesce said that the association is there to help by offering ideas and best practices they have seen work for other stores.

The CFA said that some retailers have started charging for baskets. Retailers are also training front-of-the-store staff to be on the look-out. Some are offering free reusable bags to customers who walk out with a basket to prevent them from driving off with it.

“Remember to use your reusable bags and if you want to borrow a basket, bring it back," said Davis.

Pesce said that he studied other states that also had this issue and he noticed the issue died down once people became more familiar with the plastic bag law. He hopes that will happen in Connecticut as well.

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