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Pelham Manor Debates Merits of Plastic Bag Ban

PELHAM MANOR, N.Y. – Plastic bags should be banned from the community and replaced with reusable papers bags, a Pelham Manor resident told the Pelham Manor Board of Trustees in a presentation Monday night.

A ban would improve the environment in the village, Pelham Manor resident Sydney MacInnis said in a presentation to the board during public comment.

“Nonbiodegradable plastic bags are often discarded into the environment and end up polluting our waterways, clogging sewers, endangering marine life and causing unsightly litter,” said MacInnis. “These bags last hundreds of years in landfills and are potential sources of harmful chemicals when they break down.”

Produce and meat bags, garment bags and plastic bags of a particular dimension would be excluded from the ban.

Several places, including Rye and Los Angeles, have similar bans, MacInnis said. California is considering a statewide ban because it has been approved in 20 other communities. Hawaii has already approved a statewide ban. The ban was also discussed at the Pelham Board of Trustees meeting May 8.

Mayor Jim O’Connor and the trustees supported moving forward with the discussion and gave their thoughts on the issue.

Trustee Randy Sellier said his wife uses cloth bags while shopping at Trader Joe's and said that use will grow “with a nudge in the right direction.”

Trustee Neal Schwarzfeld said he told his daughter, who lives in a California community that has the ban in place, that the board would be discussing the issue and she was “horrified that we don’t have it.”

Paper bags may not be the solution because “paper uses more material and it can actually require more energy to produce and dispose of,” said Trustee Ray Vandenberg. They have a more “detrimental environmental impact than the plastic bags do,” he said, citing a 2007 study that he read.

MacInnis said paper bags “do have a heavy footprint” but sided with banning plastic.

“It’s almost like the paper right now is being used as an intermediary,” she said. “Will we be back here in a few years saying we need to revise it? I don’t know.”

O’Connor said he would “seek input from other constituents,” including Pelham Manor store owners, residents and members of local boards that have been presented or passed the ordinance. The matter will be discussed at a later meeting.

MacInnis said it was “great that the board is going to look at it.”

“It’s really wonderful because what this is doing first off is making people think,” she said. “That’s already what I’m hearing tonight, and that’s fantastic.”

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