UB introducing paper bags to comply with plastic bag ban

State-wide plastic bag ban to affect UB, campus shops and students prepare


Campus Dining and Shops and other businesses around campus will stop offering single-use plastic bags as part of the state-wide plastic bag ban beginning March 1. 

New York State created the law to reduce waste and other negative environmental impacts. All businesses required to collect NYS sales tax will be banned from distributing plastic bags, even during tax-exempt sales. Businesses are not required to provide alternative bags, like paper bags, so NYS encourages consumers to carry reusable bags with them. 

To comply with the law, CDS started reducing plastic-bag use in The Elli, Teddy’s, Main Street Market and Campus Tees and decided it will distribute free paper bags. Many students say they support the ban, even though some acknowledged it may be an inconvenience.  

Kohl says CDS “encourages” students to bring reusable bags with them when shopping and has been preparing for NYS’ plastic bag ban for the last two or three weeks. 

 “[CDS] is ready to implement, and will be in compliance with, the state’s mandated ban on single-use plastic bags,” Kohl wrote in an email. “The ban officially goes into effect on March 1, but we have been removing single-use plastic bags from our convenience store locations over the past [two-to-three] weeks and have had signage in the stores letting customers know of the change.”

 Certain plastic bags, like those “used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs” and “produce bags for bulk items,” are exempt from the ban because of “specific circumstances,” according to NYS’ Department of Environmental Conservation. Erie County opted out of NYS’ optional five-cent paper bag fee, so paper bags offered around campus will be free. But businesses are not required to offer single-use bags to customers.

 Haven Nguyen, a sophomore media study and business administration major, said the ban is “an important movement.” 

 “It’s an important movement that will force people to now think about sustainability because people don’t think about it daily,” Nguyen said. “Because look outside, climate change is real.” 

Brian O’Shea, regional operations manager at the bookstore, said the bookstore will send its unused plastic bags to other Follett Higher Education Group branches in states where plastic bags aren’t banned. 

“We will be sending all plastic bags to states that are currently still using plastic bags,” O’Shea said. That way we’re not throwing them out.” “We might as well just reuse them within our company so we decided to send them off to other stores.”

Kyle Rigault-Clement, a junior political science major, said he’d prefer if he could still get a plastic bag, but understands the change.

“I mean, I’d like to have a bag; I’d have to put [what I buy] in my bookbag,” Rigault-Clement said. “But, you know, if it saves the environment then I guess I can manage.”

The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mentioned an incorrect $5 price point for CDS bags.


Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor for The Spectrum and an English and philosophy major. His favorite book is “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith and he hopes that one day his writing will be as good as hers. 


Alexandra Moyen is the editor in chief of The Spectrum.