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News From

State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Deputy Majority Leader

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Contact: Dan Doyle

April 22, 2016

An Earth Day Victory: Kennedy and Industry Representatives Announce Senate Passage of Plastic Bag Bill

Bill aims to reduce the use of paper and plastic bags by 33 percent by 2021

NORTH BRANFORD—On Earth Day, Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) joined grocery industry representatives to celebrate the successful passage of a bipartisan bill that will increase recycling and lead to the phase-out of wasteful single-use plastic and paper bags. Senator Kennedy worked with representatives of the grocery and retail industries to negotiate a bill that will cut down on plastic waste in the environment while supporting the interests of Connecticut businesses. The bill passed out of the Senate this week with a bipartisan vote of 29-2.

“These single-use paper and plastic bags have a negative environmental impact that greatly outweighs the value they provide to consumers,” said Senator Kennedy, Senate Chair of the Environment Committee. “Connecticut uses about 950 million plastic bags every year. Many of these bags end up littering our streets and polluting our waterways. I am glad that we were able to work with industry representatives to craft this effective, bipartisan legislation that will provide critical relief to our environment.”

“For years now, there has been a steady movement under way on the part of the grocery community in Connecticut to save the planet. We are pleased that Senator Kennedy shares our values,” said Wayne Pesce, President of the Connecticut Food Association. “These efforts are important to consumers, they shave operating costs in a variety of ways, they align with a complex and intricate supply chain and they’re having a real impact on the food industry’s environmental foot print. Best of all, these sustainability efforts are . . . well, sustainable.”

SB 226, An Act Concerning Single-Use Carryout Bags cuts down on the wasteful use of single-use plastic bags while encouraging the use of recyclable bags. The bill requires that by July 1, 2018, half of the single-use plastic and paper bags in stores must be 100 percent recyclable, made with at least 25 percent recycled material, and be designed for multiple reuses. This requirement will extend to all plastic bags by July 1, 2020.

The bill also requires that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association and the Connecticut Food Association to help reduce the environmental impacts of single-use carryout bags, at no added cost to consumers. Under this MOU, grocery and retail stores will work toward a 33 percent reduction in the distribution of paper bags and single-use plastic bags by 2021. Incentives will be established to encourage the reduced use of these bags and the increased use of reusable bags and bags made of recycled or biodegradable materials. Participating supermarkets, grocery stores, and retailers will also establish their own plastic packaging recycling programs to further reduce plastic waste.

Americans use an estimated 100 billion plastic bags every year. Plastic bags are used on average for only 12 minutes before being discarded and can take up to 1,000 years to break down, allowing them to clog the state’s waste stream and pollute waterways.

The production of single-use plastic bags causes additional environmental damage. IT is estimated that the manufacturing of plastic bags consumes 14 million trees every year in the United States. Most plastic bags in the United States are made from natural gas, and require roughly 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuel and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water to produce. The process needed to make plastic bags also produces a billion pounds of solid waste and 2.7 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.

Now that SB 226 has passed the State Senate, it awaits further legislative consideration by the House of Representatives.



Chair: Environment; Internship

Vice Chair: Banking; Public Health

Member: Finance, Revenue & Bonding; Transportation

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Dan Doyle

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