New York State Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

New York State has officially banned single-use plastic bags from use in retail sales. The ban is scheduled to go into effect in March 2020.

The objective of the ban is to transition New York State citizens’ bag use to completely reusable bags, rather than just banning plastic. To achieve this goal, the ban includes an option for local governments such as counties to impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags.

New York State became the second state to officially sign a single-use plastic bag ban into law, following the footsteps of California. In addition to New York and California, all of the counties in Hawaii have bans on plastic bags, making them a rare sight in the state.

Environmental reasons have been cited as a motive for the new law. According to National Geographic, plastic bags are often eaten by wildlife such as cattle and turtles, which can kill them. Plastic bags have also been known to clog city drains. “For far too long these bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways and that’s why I proposed a ban in this year’s budget,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said.

In a 2018 report, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation estimated that New York State residents use 23 billion plastic bags every year.

A 5-cent fee on single-use bags in Suffolk County reduced their usage by 80%, according to retailers within the county. Legislators in New York hope to take this progress up another notch with the new law. “I think we’ll look back in a few years and people will wonder why we didn’t do this sooner,” said New York state senator Todd Kaminsky.