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Price Chopper pulling plastic bags at checkouts Saturday

Groceries from Price Chopper sit on a kitchen counter. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

SCHENECTADY — Beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, all New York Price Chopper, Market Bistro and Market 32 stores will once again ban thin film plastic bags, in compliance with the environmentally conscious New York state law that was implemented shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began, the company announced in a press release Thursday, July 30.

The Schenectady-based chain removed plastic bags from its stores when New York’s law went into effect on March 1 but brought them back by the end of that month because paper bags were growing scarce and some customers said they felt safer using disposable bags during the pandemic.

In an effort to protect employees and customers, those who brought reusable bags to the stores were asked to pack their own groceries. On Aug. 1, the chain’s teammates will resume packing reusable bags for customers.

“We are taking this step now — before it is required — because we support the noble intent of this law to reduce plastic in the waste stream and have seen the paper bag supply chain, which tightened during the initial weeks of the pandemic due to panic buying, ease somewhat,” said Mona Golub, Price Chopper’s vice president of public relations and consumer services.

“Our confidence in resuming compliance in this new age was further bolstered when the CDC and a broad cross section of the international medical community confirmed that the surface of clean reusable bags does not facilitate the transmission of COVID-19,” she added. “Keeping our reusables clean, like disinfecting the surfaces we touch, is both a safety precaution and a personal responsibility.”

Disposable paper bags can be purchased — 5 cents for handle-less ones and 15 cents for handled ones — and heavy duty reusables are available for as little as 50 cents.