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Neither Chautauqua County nor NY getting 5 cents bag fee

CVS is not charging customers for paper bags. Other businesses in Chautauqua County are. OBSERVER Photo.

Even though the county has opted out of charging stores five cents a bag, some stores have implemented the fee.

“Cities and counties are authorized to adopt a five-cent paper carry-out bag reduction fee. This means that in these areas, a consumer will be charged 5 cents for each paper carryout bag provided at checkout,” reads the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Chautauqua County opted out of this and is not collecting a fee from stores for providing paper bags to their customers. This has not stopped some businesses from charging their customers 5 cents a bag.

Some of the businesses around Northern Chautauqua County that are now charging for paper bags include Rite Aid, Tops and Walmart. Aldi has been charging 5 cents for paper bags for years. Save a Lot has also always charged for bags, but no longer provides plastic bags to buy and charges 6 cents for paper bags.

“There is a 5 cent fee and a portion of that fee will go towards charity,” wrote Tops on Facebook. “We are happy to share that a portion of the proceeds will be going back to our partners at local food banks and area children’s hospitals.”

When questioning Fredonia Walmart officials as to where the 5 cents per bag was going, it was stated that the employees are not allowed to discuss that information and to call the media relations phone number. The OBSERVER still has not gotten a response from the inquiry.

A possible reason for these stores charging for bags is simply that they cost more than plastic, but that hasn’t been a problem for ShurFine in Cassadaga. They have been providing free paper bags for customers for years and did not use plastic before the state ban.

Another store choosing not to charge for their paper bags is CVS. Dollar General has not confirmed whether they are going to charge for their bags yet, as they are using their stock of plastic bags until they run out.

“In areas that have adopted the five-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children — a nutrition program) recipients, and they are exempt from paying a paper carryout bag reduction fee for paper carryout bags,” the DEC website states.

If the county had mandated the five cent fee, SNAP and WIC recipients would be exempt from paying the fee. Unless a store has a specific policy, they still charge SNAP and WIC recipients for bags.

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