Good Question: Charging even more for paper bags?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Let’s answer a good question about the price of paper bags.

This is all tied to New York’s ban on plastic bags and that $0.05 you have to pay some places to get paper bags at checkout. At least, it used to be five cents.

Cindy sent me this message:

“I shopped at Tops in Hilton yesterday and used a bag there at self-checkout and glanced at my receipt when I was home and lo and behold the charge was 6 cents. I understood that NY State said no more plastic, but you can purchase a paper bag at 5 cents. I know it’s only 1 cent, but it’s just the point. Sneaky, I believe.”

We also saw the same when we checked out Tops on East Ridge Road so I reached out to the company to see what’s going on. Here’s what I got in response:

"Although we are trying to shift shoppers to reusable bags, we still find ourselves having to provide alternatives. Today’s rising costs are permeating every part of our economy which includes the supply cost of paper bags. The penny increase in the fee charged for each paper bag does not offset the actual cost of the bag. With our efforts to shift customers to reusable bags, we have also shifted and expanded our fund-raising efforts to align with this goal. As a shopper purchases a Tops totes for change reusable bag, $1 from each bag purchased goes directly back to a local charity."

At the main competitor, Wegmans, it’s still $0.05 for paper bags. That money goes to United Way and food banks. In 2021, it donated more than $1.75 million companywide.

Please reach out if you’ve seen different prices anywhere else recently and how much. Friday morning I heard from another viewer who told me: “FYI, Yesterday at The Christmas Tree Shop we were charged 10 cents per bag.”

As for that five-cent cap on paper bag fees, that’s for counties and cities that vote to put it on everyone. None of our governments did. They left it up to each store. So here businesses can really charge whatever they want for bags and sales tax is due on the amount charged.