As a regular Hannaford customer, I’d like to offer some simple numbers to the controversy surrounding the proposal to charge a few cents for each bag now given free.

Hannaford pays $32 for a box of 2,000 plastic bags, or 1.6 cents each. Business people know there are also costs for shipping and handling, plus the cost for the cashier to ring up the number of bags, often only after bagging is complete. Let’s say 3 cents per bag is a fair estimate.

A reusable bag costs $1.50. I’ve had mine for well over a year. It seems to hold twice what a plastic bag holds, so doing the arithmetic, I find the break-even point is around 25 uses ($1.50 divided by two, divided by 3 cents per plastic bag).

Of course individuals have different needs. Mine include using plastic bags to keep bread and cheese fresh, to clean up after my dog, to bag that chicken carcass I don’t want to put in the compost, to make crushed glass or clean the swarf out of our glass machinery (we’re fused glass artists), to hold fireplace ashes, and so forth. But a box of four-gallon garbage bags are 30 for $2.42 with tax, or 8 cents per bag.

The solution is to buy two or three reusable bags, plus pay three cents for the occasional bag I need. That’s $4.50 a year for the reusables, plus another $3.12 per year for two plastic bags per week, totaling $7.62 a year, a tiny cost for being a responsible consumer on an increasingly overpopulated planet.

And let Hannaford keep the money, not Waterville. It’s not a tax, just the cost of doing business. Anyone who remembers Maine’s roadsides before the 1976 bottle bill knows it will work.

Bernie Huebner


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