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The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. this week had Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano at its Thornwood, N.Y. A&P store to talk about the new law that requires every large store in the county that provides plastic carry-out bags to have an in-house recycling program in place by Oct. 13.
The new law, which affects businesses larger than 10,000 square feet, says that a "visible," clearly marked collection bin has to be placed near the entrance, and the collected bags must then be transported and recycled.
"A number of retailers, primarily supermarkets such as A&P, have voluntary programs to collect and recycle bags, but not everyone does," noted Spano. "This law will ensure that everyone complies. If you're a 10,000-square-foot retailer and you give out plastic bags, you have to take them back and make sure they get recycled."
The stores are additionally required to accept bags that don't come from their stores, and, if asked, must provide verification to Westchester County's Department of Environmental Facilities that they are actually recycling.
"We are committed to environmental protection, including reducing litter and lessening the impact of plastics as waste," said A&P s.v.p., marketing and communications Jennifer MacLeod. "We do this by providing customers with products, information, and incentives to put environment-friendly principles into practice. For example, we have recyclable bins in all of our stores to collect plastics, we encourage customers to use 'paid' stickers on large items, and our retail associates are working to decrease the number of bags per transaction by increasing the number of items per bag."
MacLeod added that A&P additionally offers reusable bags from recycled materials, of which over 1.8 million have sold to date. A significant portion of the bag proceeds goes to the Elizabeth Haub Foundation -- named for the mother of executive chairman Christian Haub -- which creates and enacts environmental policy. Each bag, on average, can replace 2.5 plastic bags.
The law, proposed by Spano and sponsored by County Legislator William Burton, was approved last spring by the board of legislators.
Montvale, N.J.-based A&P operates 447 stores in eight states and the District of Columbia under the following banners: A&P, Waldbaum's, Pathmark, Best Cellars, The Food Emporium, Super Foodmart, Super Fresh and Food Basics.