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Politics

Catsimatidis Looking to Build Paper Bag Factory in Upstate New York

March 10, 2020

NEW YORK – Greek-American billionaire and supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis has been vocal about the plastic bag ban that went into effect on March 1 and is now planning to build a paper bag factory in Upstate New York, according to a March 7 report in the New York Post.

“Catsimatidis asked the Syracuse-based chamber of commerce CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity for help to move the process along,” in a letter obtained by the Post.

“Industry experts advise that there will be a massive shortage of paper bags and this will harm both consumers and store owners and make the new law unworkable,” Cats said in the letter addressed to CenterState President and CEO Robert Simpson.

Catsimatidis’ letter continued, “To try to remedy this situation for all New Yorkers I am interested in creating or building a facility for the production of paper bags in the CenterStreet region. This, of course, will be an economic development opportunity for that region,” the Post reported.

Catsimatidis has voiced his opposition to the plastic bag ban and even took out a full page ad in the Post concerning the ban. He told the Post, “I believe in recycling. We have been recycling the plastic bags. I come from a generation where we got rid of paper bags because we didn’t want to kill billions of trees.”

“Catsimatidis estimated his upstate facility could be completed within a year and would lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs,” the Post reported, adding that “he also insisted he wasn’t doing it for the money.”

“Paper bags are costing 10 cents a piece. Plastic are a penny or two a piece. I am trying to bring the costs down to a reasonable number and not let people rip off the consumer and the store owners of New York. I don’t care about profits at this point,” Catsimatidis told the Post.

CenterState released a statement to the Post that they have received Catsimatidis’ letter and have “reached out to him to explore how they could help move the project forward,” the Post reported.

Just before the ban went into effect, New York State’s top environmental official announced that the state will wait until April 1 to penalize stores that violate the new ban on single-use plastic bags.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said on February 28 that the state has agreed to delay enforcement as it fights a lawsuit in Albany County court, lodged by a manufacturer of plastic bags and by convenience store owners who call the ban unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

An association of 6,000 convenience store owners statewide opposes the state’s efforts to allow stores to hand out only thick, reusable plastic bags that the industry says it can’t yet produce.

“We have consistently said since the beginning of our outreach campaign that we will focus on education rather than enforcement and today does not change that,” Seggos said.

The state has planned to enforce the ban by issuing a warning to retailers who violate the law for the first time. Retailers could eventually face a $250 fine for a subsequent violation, and a $500 fine for violations in the same calendar year.

New York’s ban has also drawn criticism from environmental groups who don’t want New York to allow any plastic bags at all.

The law passed last April bars many types of businesses from using the thin plastic bags that have been clogging up landfills, getting tangled in trees and accumulating in lakes and seas. Single-use paper bags will still be allowed, but counties have the option of imposing a 5-cent fee.

New York’s ban exempts bags used for restaurant takeout food, plastic bags used to wrap meat, and bags used for prepared food.

State environmental officials are encouraging New Yorkers to start using reusable bags often made out of canvas or polyester. The state said it has purchased over a quarter-million reusable bags to give out to food pantries and shelters.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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