I moved to Warwick about a year ago. A few months after I came, despite being seriously short on spare time, I attended two of the plastic bag fee hearings at the Town Hall because I knew it was an important issue. In my comments to the Board, I noted how Warwick would be at the forefront of an important environmental movement, and that I was proud to live here.
I sat through two of the three sessions of public comments. I didn’t take notes but my recollection is that the comments were easily 80% in favor of the bag fee. From my hearing of it, about 1,500 petitions have been signed by Warwick residents in support of the fee. Both of the major supermarkets in town and many local businesses are in support of it. Objections were raised as to hardships for low income people, and solutions were found. Many reusable bags were handed out (more than we need really – most people are drowning in reusable bags now).
I fail to understand why the Town Board will not now vote on this issue. It was determined that a public referendum is not appropriate for this topic. Fine. So then why will the Town Board not vote?
I work in the field of solid waste. I network with solid waste people at the state and county level. At the state level, there have been mutterings about a bag ban, but there is no action so far and none seems imminent. At the county level, discussions are only just now scheduled to begin! It took Warwick several years to get to the point where hearings were held on this issue. Why will we now abandon our effort here, which has matured over several years and recently came to a head, to simply passively watch while they start the very same process at the county level? What is the reason, no, what is the excuse for this? Warwick needs to lead, not be dragged along unwillingly.
There are so many reasons to cut back on plastic bags, they can hardly be counted. Currently, most municipalities nationwide are stockpiling or landfilling collected recyclables because our international exports have been halted. One of the major reasons for this is that too many plastic bags contaminate the desired recyclable items. Plastic bags are a scourge on the earth. They dot the landscape and fill the bellies of marine and land animals. They are a grossly failed experiment, not a human entitlement.
Legislation restricting plastic bags has been enacted all over the world, in towns and regions and even entire countries. Not once has it been rolled back because it wasn’t working. It’s not really that groundbreaking anymore. It’s been done plenty of times, and it’s a critically important move. Now I’d like to know why a vote isn’t being taken.