5 things Connecticut residents need to know about the new plastic bag tax



Consumers will have to take their own shopping bags or pay 10 cents per bag at the store to carry their products.

The 10 cent cost for bags was proposed by Gov. Ned Lamont as a way to dissuade the use of plastic bags which are harmful to the environment.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 30 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. When not recycled or disposed of properly, the bags can end up in waterways and forests, which poses a danger to wildlife.

Connecticut consumers use an estimated 700 million plastic bags every year.

“Everyone should go to the landfill and see what it looks like and they’d see the impact” of these plastic bags, said Scott Jackson, commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services. “It’s changed our lives. It’s really shocking.”

Latinos are especially worried about the environment and climate change.

A May 2017 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication surveyed 2,054 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos to find out about their knowledge on climate change, knowledge, risk perceptions, policy support, behaviors, motivations and barriers to political action.

The survey results found:

  • Seven in 10 Latinos (70%) understand global warming is mostly caused by humans, including three-quarters of Spanish-language Latinos (76%), compared to 58 percent of non-Latinos.
  • More than six in 10 Latinos (63%) understand that most scientists think global warming is happening, compared to 49 percent of non-Latinos. Fewer than one in six Latinos (15%) think “there is a lot of disagreement among scientists” about whether or not global warming is happening, compared to 28 percent of non-Latinos.
  • More than three in four Latinos (78%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming, including 82 percent of Spanish-language Latinos, compared to 57 percent of non-Latinos.
  • Half of Latinos (50%) think people in the United States are being harmed by global warming, including 63 percent of Spanish-language Latinos, compared to 34 percent of non-Latinos.

“Latinos are much more engaged with the issue of global warming than are non-Latinos,” according to the Yale report.

As the plastic bag takes effect, here are five things you should know about the state’s new law:

  1. The new bag tax will apply to some plastic bags, not all. The tax is on bags used to carry your purchases out of the store. But bags used to place produce or to hold cheese.
  2. It’s not only about grocery store bags. While grocery stores use the vast majority of plastic bags, the law will also apply to department stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, hardware stores and virtually every other type of retailer, as well as restaurants and food trucks. If they are selling food or merchandise and you carry it in a thin plastic bag, you’ll most likely pay the fee. Think you understand the new policy? Well, don’t be so sure, because…
  3. There will be some confusion. “I think there’s always concern when there’s confusion when a new law goes into effect,” said Tim Phelan, president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association. “My feeling is that initially there won’t be a uniform approach.” But why not? Because some stores currently offer only plastic bags, while others offer free paper bags. And some plan to offer paper bags and charge for them. Since the law was enacted, the Department of Revenue Services has been swamped with questions. It’s working with retailers to communicate and inform consumers. DRS posted 18 frequently asked questions about the law, along with the answers, on its website. Jackson warned that “it could be 20 questions next week…The truth is that the question and answer sheet continues to grow.” But things could continue to be confusing, because…
  4. Cities and municipalities could also adopt plastic bag measures. While communities cannot cancel the 10 cent tax, they can impose stricter plastic bag restrictions. Nearly 20 municipalities have already adopted restrictions on plastic bags via a local ordinance. For example, Hamden and Middletown have completely banned plastic bags. And Weston only allows plastic bags over 2.25 mils think and paper bags that do not contain old growth tree fiber and are 100 percent recyclable. As a result, Connecticut residents could be seeing a lack of uniformity in the use of plastic bags until July 1, 2021. That’s when…
  5. The state will supposedly completely ban plastic bags. The new law states that the 10-cent tax which began Aug. 1, will continue through June 30 2021. After that, plastic bags with a width of less than 4 thousandths of an inch will be prohibited. But legislators could also push the date back. But why would they consider a delay? According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Fiscal Analysis Office, the plastic bag fee will generate about $27 million per year for the state’s coffers. And that’s a lot of money to pass up.

This story originally appeared in Identidad Latina: 5 cosas que debes saber sobre la nueva ley de bolsas de plástico

Publisher’s Note: CTLatinoNews.com and Identidad Latina are partners in better serving the Hispanic/Latino community in Connecticut.