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Five Cent Fee Could Help Reduce Plastic Bags
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Environmental advocates are pushing for legislation that would impose a five cent fee on paper and plastic bags provided by retailers across the state. 

The message is simple.

"We're asking people to BYOB -- Bring Your Own Bag."

Adrienne Esposito is the executive-director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a non-profit organization based in Connecticut and New York. Esposito says Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, and about 400 million in Connecticut alone.

"Where do the plastic bags end up? The answer is everywhere. They end up along roads, they end up on our beaches, they end up in the parks, they end up on the highways, they end up dangling from trees, on fences, and actually killing and maming marine life."

Representative Denise Merrill, one of the sponsors, says this bill would not only push people to reuse bags, but it would create revenue to help support other recycling efforts in the state.

"You know, part of our problem this year is that we are going to have to find creative ways to fund the things we care about. And I would put this bill in that category."

With an estimated 50 percent drop in the use of plastic bags, Merrill says the state could net about $10 million the first year.  But, she says that number will drop as consumers catch on.

Other states are considering a similar bill, including California, Vermont and Massachusetts. The bill has been approved by the Environment Committee and has been forwarded to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Some grocery stores are already giving discounts to customers who bring their own bags. Wesport is the only town in Connecticut to enact a complete ban on plastic bags. It started last week.