New Hampshire grocers fear plastic bag fee would harm lower-income shoppers

By Sarah Downey | The Center Square

Opponents of new state legislation that would charge for plastic shopping bags in New Hampshire contend it will be a burden on consumers and retailers.

The measure, HB559, which is before the House Municipal and County Government committee, would unduly penalize businesses that don’t want to charge their customers more than they have to, John Dumais, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Grocers Association, told The Center Square.

Wikimedia Commons/Trevor Stone

The majority of the grocer association’s members are small businesses who would face pushback from customers, due to the bill’s mandate to charge a 10-cent fee on the first 5 shopping bags provided by the stores.

“We don’t see a need to penalize consumer, retailers and state revenue by having this legislation go through,” Dumais said. “Are we really making a difference environmentally by charging consumers more and retailers more? We want everyone to do their part on a voluntary basis.”

During testimony in front of the committee last week, Dumais spoke about an alternative solution, a national public awareness outreach initiative known as the Wrap Recycling Action Program, which is said to recycle more than 1 billion pounds plastic bags and wraps every year.

Items are recycled at no charge to the consumer and remain in high demand by manufacturers who want to recycle the products, rather than buying higher cost raw materials, according to Dumais.

“Our association’s members believe in voluntary efforts, driven by individual financial abilities and customer preferences, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ mandate,” Dumais testified.

The majority of the grocer association’s members are small businesses who would face pushback from customers, due to the bill’s mandate to charge a 10-cent fee on the first 5 shopping bags provided by the stores. The fee would unduly cut into budgets of those on fixed incomes, Dumais added, essentially compelling them to pay for bags instead of food.

“So rather than the state collecting the revenue (and a bad reputation), it mandates retailers must charge the 10 cents, which is then called a ‘fee,’” Dumais testified. “That hidden ‘tax’ means grocers would receive the consumer’s resentment and not the state.”

While a number of states, including Maine and Vermont, have enacted plastic bag legislation, New Hampshire lawmakers have sought solutions for years but not yet reached a compromise. State Rep. Judith Spang, D-Durham, the sponsor of HB 559, has said she wants legislation that satisfies all parties to finally be successful in the next legislative session.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Olybrius and Wikimedia Commons/Trevor Stone
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4 thoughts on “New Hampshire grocers fear plastic bag fee would harm lower-income shoppers

  1. Can’t help thinking about a sign posted in a Wyoming restaurant (Star Valley). They had many signs. One I remember quite well, it was the time in that area about environmentalists wanting to stop timbering. It was home of the Spotted Owl, they were more numerous elsewhere.

    The sign read: Save a Spotted Owl, wipe your butt with a tree. Seen a couple come in, saw the sign and left (liberals).

    The Owl survived and increased in numbers. As Paul Harvey would say: “that’s the rest of the story”.

    • “2019: Kill trees, stop using plastic, there’s too much CO2”

      Yes Alex and to compound the problem they would remove more
      CO2 eaters *the trees* to help solve the so called problem of too
      much co2…. liberal logic isn’t logical at all, they would drive
      Spock insane…Liberalism is a MENTAL DISEASE….

  2. Vermont has a wonderful opportunity to lead, make money and prosper from the plastic bag fiasco, will we go that direction or choose our classic tried and true, how can we make life more difficult and expensive for everyone.

    Just think, Vermont comes up with a replacement for these bags that’s bio friendly. It’s a billion dollar business, new jobs, boost to Vermont economy….research money. And we’ve made the world a better place.

    But we can’t help ourselves, we can’t do anything but, ban, tax, regulate and stifle. Here is a huge, huge opportunity to make the world a better place and all we can do is tax.

    Our state has been overrun by New World Order wannabe’s they certainly aren’t American loving democrats, and nobody in the party can change their vote from command central or think for themselves, otherwise they’ll be eliminated.

    Vermont is in a rut, we need to jump the rut.

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