By Ray Dunaway

President of the Connecticut Food Association  (CFA)Wayne Pesce, looks at the proposed bag tax. Environmentalists and grocers are urging a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper shopping bags. And Gov. Malloy is seeking a budget boost in 10-cent deposits.

Initially the CFA, which is made up of grocery stores and food distributors, were against this tax, but now feel it’s a good idea. Dunaway asks Pesce to explain the change in position.

According to Pesce, the CFA‘s position has been revolving. “In 2010, we voluntarily campaigned to reduce the use of plastic and paper bags in our stores, and that campaign successfully reduced bag usage by almost 300 million – a 30% decrease from seven years ago.” Pesce believes the voluntary aspect of reducing bags in stores has reached its landing point, so now they’re looking at the next step.

“Right now, stores like Big Y and Stop and Shop have places where you can return bags to be recycled…are people doing that?” Dunaway asks.

Pesce explains the WRAP program – an education campaign that began in Vancouver, Washington. In conjunction with DEEP, the program kicked off just last week at Price Chopper, and educates consumers about, “where those bags go, and how to keep them out of incinerators and landfills.”

Ray points out the interesting fact that even though environmental groups and the CFA are lined up with the bag tax, the commissioner of DEEP is saying…”I don’t think we need to do this.”

“We’ve aligned ourselves well with DEEP and are working on a bunch of issues, including WRAP, which was, to their credit, led by DEEP,” says Pesce. He goes on to say that although he wasn’t present for the testimony, he does know the commissioner would like to see a reduction in the usage of bags.

Dunaway asks the important question, “Where does the money go…does it go to an environmental fund, or a general fund as a revenue source?”

The CFA would like to see a portion of the money got back to education, in order to teach consumers on how to properly recycle plastic and paper bags. “Our concern is that we have a billion bags in the state of Connecticut, and many of these bags are going back to the wrong place.”

“What about the soda tax, and the increase of deposits on bottles?” Asks Dunaway.

Pesce explains that there are currently seven bills being considered on bottle laws, two of which are to repeal the current model. “I don’t think raising the fee to 10-cents on some items basically works,” says Pesce. “We need to figure how to get the bottle law better –  I don’t think it works to confuse consumers by charging a dime on some items and a nickel on others.”

 

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