It’s been in the works for ages now, but single-use plastic bags will be officially banned for good in New York starting March 1.
New York keeps getting greener. First styrofoam containers and next month, plastic bags are no more.
Under the Bag Waste Reduction Law passed in all of New York State last year, no plastic carryout bags (except a few exemptions, which are detailed below) can be distributed to the public by anyone “required to collect New York State sales tax.” As the New York State DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) website states, “the law will affect anyone required to collect New York State sales tax, bag manufacturers and consumers.” So, basically every store.
And don’t forget, this isn’t only for grocery stores. It’s for clothing stores, hardware store, etc.
The law also involves a five cent fee for paper bags in NYC—if the store even carries them. Stores are not actually required to provide any type of carryout bags, but many will offer reusable bags for sale. The fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program) recipients. Users of SNAP and WIC will also be provided free carryout bags from stores.
If you see some plastic bags still being used, they may be under the exemption in the law. Examples of these are plastic bags “used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs, and produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables.” The DEC strongly encourages citizens to use reusable bags as often as possible (you can get one mailed to you for free from the New York Department of Sanitation here).
The harm of single-use plastic bags has been proven time and time again. A study that came out in 2018 discovered that New Yorkers use more than 23 billion plastic bags each year that end up in waterways and landfills. In 2018, Governor Cuomo and other State lawmakers proposed legislation banning the use of single-use plastic bags but it was unable to get approval at the time.
You can read even more details about the new law on the DEC website here.
Main image source: shutterstock
Also published on Medium.