A bill that would gradually phase out single-use plastic and paper bags at supermarkets and grocery stores in Connecticut has passed out of the state Senate and is awaiting action in the House.
The bill encourages consumers to pack their goods in reusable carry-out bags made from recycled materials.
The state uses about 950 million plastic bags each year. Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. -- Senate chair of the Environment Committee -- said that many of those bags end up littering streets and polluting waterways.
Westport is the only Connecticut municipality to ban most types of plastic bags, back in 2009. Jonathan Steinberg, a Democratic representative from Westport, said last month that reusable bag bills have been up for discussion in the past, but it's been difficult to move them forward. "I submit that as each year passes, the environmental impacts of plastic bags become more and more a problem," he said.
In written testimony, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it supports the idea of the plastic bag ban, and hopes to work with industry to increase points for plastic bag collection. Some stores already have return bins for recycling single-use carryout plastic bags.
The proposal would require that by July 1, 2018, half the single-use plastic and paper bags be recyclable. That extends to all plastic bags by July 1, 2020.