Good Question: Where does the paper bag fee go?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y.(WHEC)— Plastic bags are out. Those have been banned statewide for many months now.

We’re left with reusable bags, and you pay a one-time charge for those. We also have paper bags, those are a nickel each every time you checkout.

A viewer had a Good Question about that fee and sent this message to News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: How much money has Wegmans donated so far from collecting the 5 cents for buying the paper bags?

As the plastic bag ban officially kicked in last year, Wegmans did announce it’d be donating the paper bag revenue to charity.

How much so far?

A company spokesperson told Somers: As our food bank and United Way partners have been working hard to meet the increased demand for their services during the pandemic, the additional funds we’ve donated from our 5-cent paper bag charge have proven vital. in 2020, more than $1.23 million has been collected and donated from the bag charge.

Tops is another local chain giving the fee revenue back to the community. Somers reached out but didn’t get a total. A spokesperson told him stores still offer reusable bags and Tops totes for change bags. Those are $1.99, and a dollar goes to charity. The response also states "we will continue to offer our customer’s paper bag options for five cents with a portion of the proceeds going back to local charities that are in alignment with our mission of eradicating hunger and improving the lives of children."

Important to note, counties can opt-in and make the paper bag fee mandatory for everyone. Those local governments would then split the money with the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. Only five areas do that in New York, none of our counties do.

So, these stores are charging the paper bag fee on their own, as a taxable item, then giving it to charity.


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