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Stop & Shop to donate half of paper bag fees to environmental group

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Stop & Shop, which recently eliminated nonbiodegradable plastic bags from checkout lanes at all stores in Connecticut, pledged to donate half of a new 10-cent fee on paper bags to the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound.

The grocer announced the move in a news release Wednesday, saying the donations from all 91 stores in the state would help the advocacy group — which promotes a sustainable environment in Connecticut and the Long Island Sound region — combat pollution. The overall donation will be capped at $100,000, Stop & Shop said.

The elimination of plastic bags — notorious for winding up in waterways — came as the state implemented a 10-cent tax ahead of an outright ban beginning in 2021. Big Y and other grocers similarly took plastic bags off checkout carousels, and stores across the state have been pushing reusable bags to avoid an increase in paper, which is more costly and also harmful to the environment.

The state allowed stores to implement a fee on paper bags, which can cost grocers at least 8 cents each compared to about a penny for plastic bags, according to the Connecticut Food Association.

"Since the elimination of single-use plastic bags at checkout just one month ago, Stop & Shop has seen a substantial increase in the number of customers using reusable bags," Rudy DiPietro, special vice president of operations at Stop & Shop, said in a statement. "We've placed a 10-cent fee on paper bags to further encourage our customers to make the switch to reusable, and we're excited to share that we're donating a portion of that fee to help protect Long Island Sound and keep Connecticut's waterways free of pollution."

Bill Lucey, soundkeeper at Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, said in a statement it was "inspiring to see customers committed to reducing their plastic use, and companies encouraging use of reusable bags."

"In 17 years of coastal cleanups in Connecticut, plastic bags and packaging are some of the items our volunteers find most — which is bad news for the birds and fish that eat those bags or get tangled in them," Lucey said. He added that the donation would help the group "continue safeguarding our shoreline and strengthen the laws that ensure clean air and clean water for all Connecticut residents."

Stop & Shop stores are hosting a special "Fun Day" on Saturday, letting children color their own reusable tote bags with crayons and take them home. To learn more about the grocer's sustainability efforts, visit bit.ly/SnScommunity.

b.kail@theday.com

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