By Jano Tantongco
The proposed ban of single-use plastic bags in Suffolk County retail stores has been put on hold following concerns raised by a Melville manufacturer, which produces plastic bags.
Ken Trottere, vice president of plastic bag manufacturer Poly-Pak Industries, said the proposed ban would negatively impact his business, considering it “unnecessary.” Poly-Pak, which also produces consumer and commercial plastic packaging and municipal signs, employs over 300 people at its 150,000-square-foot Spagnoli Road facility, according to Trottere.
Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport), who proposed the ban, said Monday that the legislation was tabled in the legislature’s health committee during its April 7 meeting at the request of the legislature administration, and some of his colleagues.
The proposed ban was scheduled to be voted on at the legislature’s scheduled April 12 general meeting, which occurred after deadline.
Trottere said he met with Spencer on April 13 to discuss alternatives, and seek a middle ground. Trottere contended that plastic bags make up a small part of the overall waste stream.
“While plastic bags are part of the problem, they make up a very small part of litter in general,” he said.
As it stands now, the proposal would ban thicker varieties of plastic bags, which Poly-Pak produces and are primarily intended for retail use.
Spencer said he’s mainly targeting thinner plastic bags, typically used at grocery stores, since they they break down easily, but do not decompose well. This makes them prime targets for wildlife, who may easily consume them, as opposed to thicker bags, which they would find less appealing, Spencer said.
Trottere, of Greenlaw, said his meeting with Spencer yielded “a very positive discussion.”
“He was interested in our position, in the facts that we brought with us. He’s very interested and concerned about the jobs that we have here in Melville,” Trottere said.
One alternative to the ban that Spencer floated was keeping the single-use plastic bags, but charging an additional fee for them.
However, Spencer said that there is still strong support for the bill and intends to get it back on the legislative track once compromises are reached. He said he’s aiming to ensure there are no “unintended consequences” if the bill were to pass.
Spencer added, “For something of this magnitude, I do think that to have a time to vet it and look at it is good government.”