It’s In The Bag: Avi Kaner Says New York City Is Not Like The ‘Burbs

On March 1, New York state’s plastic bag ban takes effect.

Westport has had one since 2008.

Avi Kaner knows both places well. He served our town as 2nd Selectman and Board of Finance chair.

But it’s in his role as owner of New York City’s 16-store Morton Williams grocery store chain that he’s quoted in today’s New York Post.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

The new state law allows retailers to charge 5 cents per paper bag. Morton Williams won’t do it.

They’d lose money, Kaner told the paper. Paper bags cost 13 cents each. Plastic bags are just 2.5 cents apiece.

Instead, his chain will stock up on the sturdy reusable bags that they already sell for 99 cents. They’ll also offer cotton and polyester bags for 15 to 20 cents — about what they cost.

But that wasn’t Kaner’s money quote.

Here’s what he told the Post about the difference between people in the town where he lives, and the city where he works:

“A lot of people don’t carry around reusable bags when they are commuting. It’s not like the suburbs where you have the bags in your car.”

(Click here for the full New York Post story. Hat tip: Peter Gold)

Avi Kaner with a different kind of environmental issue: plastic bottles. (Photo/Buck Ennis for Crain’s New York Business)

5 responses to “It’s In The Bag: Avi Kaner Says New York City Is Not Like The ‘Burbs

  1. lol thanks Dan. What didn’t make the story is that in Manhattan, people walk home carrying the bags. Paper bags with handles must therefore be double bagged so they don’t collapse on the way home. Because of the paper bag shortage, the prices have skyrocketed. National chains like Amazon Whole Foods and Trader Joes have a hold on the national supply of bags, leaving smaller independents out of luck. Our solution is a reusable shopping bag we can sell at our cost of 15-20 cents. The 5 cent per paper bag fee is actually a “tax” that goes to New York City and New York State, not to the retailer to cover its higher costs. Will keep you updated on what happens.

  2. Avi- as always, thank you for being a champion of the environment. If only our manufacturers, who continue to put everything in plastic, can catch on, we can really make a dent in using less plastic.

  3. Plastic bag bans are actually terrible for the environment. As an environmentalist I am deeply saddened by what New York has just done. Plastic bag bans lead to increases in plastic trash bags (which are worse), increase in paper bags (which are worse), and canvas bags need to be re-used 20,000 times more than plastic bags to make them better for the environment. I encourage everyone to read this NPR story:

    https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage

    I realize most people will ignore these facts and disagree with me, but I wish we could reverse Westport’s plastic bag ban.

  4. Paper bags with handles run about 14 cents and up. Stores are not making a profit off this fee.
    Usually stores will lock in a price and buy up to a years worth.
    The the heavier the paper stock and handles the more expensive they are.
    For example, Home Goods, Kohl’s, Bloomingdale’s bags are larger and have heavy duty string handles.

  5. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    While so many curse the darkness Avi Kaner lights a candle. He understands that individual behavior change can be more powerful than draconian policy change. Hats off to him!!!

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