EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – The proposed bill that would ban plastic retail bags in Tuckahoe stores was overwhelmingly rejected by the village board by a 4-1 margin.
Trustee Stephen Quigley, the only Democrat on the otherwise all-Republican board, proposed the bill in March and was the lone vote in favor of it. The bill would have forced all retail locations to phase out plastic bags within six months.
The legislation was inspired by a comparable law in Rye that was passed in 2011, Quigley said. Mamaroneck has proposed a similar bill, but has not yet voted on the measure.
Mayor Steve Ecklond said that the punishment for violators was too harsh. As it was written, first time offenders would receive a warning from code enforcement officers. The second would lead to a $100 fine, the third a $250 fine and each subsequent offense would carry a fine as high as $500.
“Where I’ve had difficulty, all along, is the legislative component of imposing a penalty for something I believe can and should be a volunteer responsibility,” he said.
According to the Clean Air Council, Americans use approximately one billion plastic non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags each year, only 12 percent of which were recycled in 2010.
Non-biodegradable plastic bags last hundreds of years in landfills and are a potential source of harmful chemicals when they do break down, experts say.
"Almost every environmental consequence has a human health consequence, from wild fires to global warming to the use of plastics," said Patti Wood, of Grassroots Environmental Education. "Every little piece of plastic that ends up in the oceans, which is a great amount, and plastics persist because they don't break down easily. As plastic photo degrades, it becomes a magnet for toxic chemicals like persistent organic pollutants."
Resident Tina Prince said she was glad the bill didn’t pass, because she simply prefers plastic to paper.
“We live in a great area, we don’t have people just throwing their plastic bags into the streets. The law would have been an inconvenience for everyone,” she added. “We don’t want to damage the environment, but I really don’t think Tuckahoe generates that much garbage.”