Plastic carryout bag ban considered in Madison County

County legislators have scheduled a public hearing on a proposed local law to ban plastic carryout bags in Madison County.

The public hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 9, 2017, in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers at the Madison County Office building in Wampsville. Members of the public is invited to attend the hearing to express their opinions. Comments are also being accepted by e-mail at

This law, entitled “Carryout Bag Reduction,” introduced by Lebanon Town Supervisor James Goldstein, seeks to protect the environment, reduce pollution and control litter by eliminating the single-use plastic carryout bag from certain retail stores.

In connection with the proposed plastic carryout bag ban and public hearing the Department of Solid Waste is conducting an education campaign focusing on the problems associated with single-use carryout plastic bags. The department will also be distributing free reusable cloth bags to replace the single-use plastic bags.

“Our newest ‘staff member’ Polly Ethel (a life-sized mannequin dressed in 500 plastic bags) has been making appearances at events and public spaces throughout Madison County to raise awareness of the plastic bag problem,” said Recycling Coordinator Mary Bartlett. “Polly wears 500 bags because this is the average number of bags one shopper uses in one year.”

Look for Polly Ethel at Common Grounds in Cazenovia until April 17. This plastic bag icon will be at the landfill scale house on Buyea Road for the Earth Day event Saturday, April 22. Free reusable bags will be distributed at the Earth Day event and are also available at the landfill office on Buyea Road Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to legislative findings, plastic bags are among the more problematic types of trash and litter. Even when properly disposed of, they take between 500-1,000 years to decompose in a landfill; even then, they do not biodegrade but rather break apart into ever smaller pieces that cannot be absorbed by the soil as nutrients or digested by microbes. Plastic bags clog sewers and storm drains, exacerbating the flooding that threatens low-lying neighborhoods, and accumulate in rivers, streams and lakes, where they become a threat to aquatic life.

Carryout bags create large amounts of litter that in turn costs the Solid Waste Department significant time and resources to clean up. The county finds and declares that banning the use of carryout plastic bags will be beneficial to the environment, reduce litter, improve the aesthetics of the county and help to control flooding thereby improving the safety, health and welfare of Madison County’s citizens.

For more information or to receive a free reusable bag, contact the recycling hotline at 1-800-721-2208.

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