Be Bag Smart: Reuse and Recycle Your Bags or Pay a Fee

Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, 2013 The Cornell Store will charge 5 cents for a plastic bag....


The Cornell Store has long supported environmentally responsible use of the “big red bag” plastic bags. Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, 2013, this effort is going to a new level through implementation of a five cent fee for any new single-use bag that is requested by customers. The fee will be contributed to a university fund described below. The store strongly encourages customers to retain their big red bags, which are popular, or to use reusable bags or their backpacks.

The fee does not cover the store’s cost to produce the bags, so the Cornell Store is continuing to underwrite the cost of the bags. The revenue collected through the fee will be put into the Green Revolving Fund which was recently established at the university to fund projects that encourage energy conservation and carbon footprint reduction on campus. “We have been discussing this transition with several campus groups for months, so we believe the change will be received positively. We are pleased to contribute to this effort to make the campus more sustainable,” said store director Pat Wynn.

The Cornell Store worked closely with student organizations, especially the Society for Natural Resource Conservation (SNRC) to discuss the implementation of this change. To further garner support for this effort the Student Assembly passed a resolution to decrease the number of bags given out. See “Student Support for a Campus-Wide Plastic Bag Fee” .

The fee for bags joins efforts the store has had in place for many years:

  • Plastic bags are optional at their checkout locations so many customers already decline bags and use their own backpacks or tote bags.
  • The plastic bags that the store has purchased have the lowest environmental impact they could find (composed of a high percentage of recycled materials, fully recyclable, biodegradable, produced in New York State and printed with water based inks), while still being strong enough to hold textbooks and to be reused.
  • There are plastic bag recycling drop-off locations accessible in the store.
      The Cornell Store was the pilot site on campus for the first plastic film collection process at Cornell.

Efforts to reduce consumption of single-use bags are in place in many parts of the globe. Many Cornell students, alumni and visitors are accustomed to this from their experiences in other cities.

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.