February 7, 2019

Sen. Haskell, Rep. Steinberg To Discuss Plastic Bag Ban Bill At Compo Beach Saturday

State Senator Will Haskell (D-Wilton) and State Representative Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) will join members of the Reusable Bag Alliance this Saturday afternoon at Compo Beach in Westport to discuss their proposed bills that would ban single-use plastic bags across the state.

“The environment plays a vital role in the daily lives of everyone in Connecticut, and we should take every step possible to protect it,” said Sen. Haskell. “Single-use plastic bags pose a threat to wildlife and clutter our parks and streets, not to mention the devastating impact they have on ocean life if they enter bodies of water. By banning the use of these bags, we can fight to pull waste out of our landfills and protect the natural beauty of our state.”

“I was proud to vote for banning plastic bags as a member of Westport’s RTM ten years ago,” said Rep. Steinberg. “I’ve been trying to get the state to do so ever since and I hope this is the year. Westporters have proven that you can change behaviors—virtually all of us have made the shift to reusable bags. Connecticutters can do it, too.”

Senate Bill No. 236, “An Act Prohibiting the Use and Distribution of Plastic Single-Use Bags,” introduced by Sen. Haskell, would prevent retail businesses from using those bags in packaging their products with the stated purpose of protecting the state’s natural environment. House Bill No. 6433, “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Disposable Single-Use Plastic Bags and Promoting the Use of Reusable Bags,” introduced by Rep. Steinberg, would do the same, also promoting reusable bags to shift consumer behavior. A third piece of legislation, House Bill No. 6256, “An Act Concerning Single-Use, Plastic Bags,” introduced by Rep. Kim Rose (D-Milford), would ban single-use plastic bags and require a 15-cent fee on paper and reusable bags.

Why ban plastic bags? While they seem light and easy to use, the world uses up to one trillion plastic bags every year, with less than 5 percent of that plastic recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If the bags reach waterways and stream into the ocean—and more than 18 billion pounds of plastic do just that annually, National Geographic reported—they pose a direct threat to turtles, seabirds and fish. More than half of all dead turtles found in the world have at least some plastic in their stomachs, according to the EPA.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, plastic bag bans and restrictions are becoming increasingly popular in states across the country in response to single-use plastic bags’ adverse effect on the environment. California, Hawaii and major cities including Boston, Massachusetts and Seattle, Washington have entirely banned the bags.

The Reusable Bag Alliance includes members of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Bring Your Own Connecticut, the Connecticut Food Association, the Surfrider Foundation and other organizations. Saturday’s press conference will discuss legislation introduced by Sen. Haskell and state representatives to eliminate bag pollution and promote reusable bags in Connecticut, and will feature town officials from surrounding communities, including some who have proposed town-wide bag bans.

“CCE applauds Rep. Steinberg, Rep. Rose and Senator Haskell for their efforts, and we call on the CT General Assembly to eliminate single-use shopping bags in Connecticut once and for all,” said Louis Burch, CT Program Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“We know that we cannot clean our way out of the plastic pollution mess,” said Jack Egan, volunteer chair for the Surfrider Foundation Connecticut Chapter. “We need regulation, and that regulation categorically needs to eliminate low grade plastic production at its source by getting rid of thin film plastic bags and adding a fee on all other bags at point of sale to urge shoppers to bring their own reusable bags.”

The event is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 at Compo Beach, located at 60 Compo Beach Road in Westport. In the event of rain or snow, the event will be rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10.

About Will Haskell: State Senator Will Haskell was first elected in 2018 to represent the twenty-sixth Senate District which consists of Westport, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and parts of Bethel, New Canaan and Weston. Prior to being elected to the State Senate, he worked for the Democratic National Committee, and helped launch the Free Speech Project, an academic endeavour based at Georgetown University, his alma mater. He has previously worked for the Connecticut Office of the Public Defender, the Capitol Hill offices of Congressman Jim Himes and Senator Chris Murphy, and Hillary for America.