The first phase of Connecticut’s single-use plastic bag ban has gone into effect. Depending upon where consumers shop, they will either pay a 10-cent fee for using plastic bags or they will no longer be available. A full statewide ban will go into place on July 1, 2021.

Consumers have a couple of choices when it comes time to bag their purchases. They can use purchase reusable bags made of canvas or cloth or they can use paper bags. But if they choose paper, some retailers now will require them to pay for the bags. For example, several of Connecticut’s largest supermarket chains are charging a 10-cent fee per paper bag.

The rationale for charging for paper bags, which currently are free at most stores, is to nudge as many consumers as possible toward using reusable bags — which also have to be purchased, albeit only once.

“People say paper bags are better for the environment, but you’re still not reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible,” said Stew Leonard Jr., whose chain of seven grocery stores includes Connecticut locations in Norwalk, Danbury and Newington. “You’ve still got people cutting down trees to use in making the bags and you’ve got the trucks that bring the bags to the stores. This will make sure that people who use paper bags will use only what they really need.”

Officials with Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y, which has 34 Connecticut locations, offered a similar explanation for their plan to charge a dime for each paper bag a customer uses. The carbon footprint of paper bag production is also harmful to the environment, company officials said in a statement.

“By working with our shoppers, we can further reduce consumption to make a difference in and around the tight-knit communities that we serve across New England,” Richard Bossie, Big Y’s senior vice president of operations and customer experience, said.

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