The Southampton Town Board will schedule a public hearing on a proposed plastic bag ban during the first week of December, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst announced at a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday.
Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chair of the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, gave a presentation to the CAC about the proposed ban. Southampton Town uses 23 million plastic bags every year, he said, and he estimates the town only recycles about 3 million of them.
“That still leaves 20 million bags that are somewhere,” he said. Plastic bags never disintegrate entirely, he explained, but instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Research has shown that fish eat the tiny plastic particles, which are now a part of the food chain.
Mr. von Lehsten also said the latest research has shown there is now more plastic in the ocean than plankton.
“It is a movement which is better to do from the bottom up,” he said, adding “the politicians depend on us because we are the electorate.” In California, 78 municipalities banned the bags, he said, which has resulted in a state-wide ban.
“We want to force the issue,” he said. Mr. von Lehsten and the sustainability committee have started a letter campaign to the town board to tell it to ban the bags.
Ms. Throne-Holst said the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association are on board with a regional ban. “I think it has a lot of value if it’s done regionally,” she said of the ban.
The East Hampton Town Board has not yet set a date for an informational meeting on a potential plastic bag ban but it will be in the next few months, Supervisor Larry Cantwell said on Tuesday.
According to Ms. Throne-Holst, the plan is to have the implementation date be Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015.