Picente Opts Oneida County Out of State Bag Fee

Residents Will Not Be Charged for Using Paper

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. announced today that Oneida County will opt out charging residents the 5-cent fee that New York State is imposing on paper bags as part of the statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

“While I agree that plastic bags have a negative impact on our environment, I will not charge the residents of Oneida County what amounts to yet another state tax to use paper bags,” Picente said. “Especially not when the state is dictating how we have to spend our portion of the money and they can do with theirs as they please. It’s unfair and shortsighted and I will not be a part of it.”

New York’s plastic bag ban is set to begin in March, and will forbid stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags with exceptions being made for such things as food takeout bags being used by restaurants, bags used to wrap deli and meat counter products and bags for bulk items.

As part of the ban, state law makers included an option for counties to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 3 cents of that revenue going to the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, and 2 cents going to counties to be used in providing free reusable bags for low income residents.

“Every proposal coming from Albany cannot come on the backs of local taxpayers,” Picente added. “If we are to truly improve our environment, everyone in Oneida County should have access to free reusable bags. That’s why through our partnership with the Oneida County Public Market and other community partners such as the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority we are working on a way to do just that.”

During Saturday’s announcement hundreds of free reusable bags provided by the Oneida County Public Market and the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority were handed out to market patrons.

“Waste reduction should be our primary focus,” said William Rabbia, Executive Director of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority. “We need to reduce single-use plastics. The best alternative is changing our habits and utilizing reusable items such as reusable grocery bags. “

“We all need to be conscious of the impact we have on our environment through our daily lives,” said Oneida County Public Market Manager Beth Irons. “While we see the global impact of our disposable societies on evening news broadcasts, we truly can change what we see happening at that level by making environmentally-friendly decisions in our own lives each and every day. One small step, using reusable grocery bags and totes, can make a difference, if we do it together.”

Photo Caption: (L-R) Oneida County Legislator Rose Ann Convertino, Executive Director of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority William Rabbia, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., and Oneida County Public Market Manager Beth Irons.