New York’s statewide ban on single-use plastic bags will take effect starting March 1.
The law was signed last April by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and will affect all retailers across the state. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the law will affect anyone required to collect New York State sales tax, bag manufacturers and consumers. Cities and counties also will be involved.
According to DEC, under the law:
- Cities and counties are authorized to adopt a 5-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee. This means that in these areas, a consumer will be charged 5 cents for each paper carryout bag provided at checkout. In areas that have adopted the 5-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program recipients, and they are exempt from paying a paper carryout bag reduction fee for paper carryout bags. Consumers can avoid paper bag fees no matter where they are across the state by bringing their own bag.
- Stores covered under the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act will still be required to collect plastic bags and other film plastics from consumers for recycling. (Film plastics include items such as bread bags and plastic wraps that come over cases of water, paper towels and other similar items). Consumers can continue to recycle these items at participating retailers.
- Some bags are exempt under the law, so plastic bags may still be distributed to consumers in a few specific circumstances, such as a bag used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs and produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables.
A paper bag manufacturer, however, has claimed the state of New York made a “monstrous mistake” assuming there would be enough paper bags to replace soon-to-be-banned single-use plastic bags, according to SI Advance. As part of the ban, counties and cities can opt into charging a 5-cent fee on paper bags, of which 2 cents will go to local governments and 3 cents will go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
Time Out has more details about the ban:
Starting March 1, you'll no longer be able to leave a store with plastic bags in hand.
A statewide ban that Governor Andrew Cuomo approved last year is finally going into effect, forbidding all stores to give out single-use plastic bags—your run-of-the-mill take out bags, for instance—because they are not biodegradable and have been found as the cause to wildlife deaths and major pollution around the world, including sad New York City trees that have become plastic bag traps.
Instead, customers are expected to bring their own reusable bags. If they don't, they'll be forced to pay a 5-cent fee for each provided paper bag. (Thankfully, this fee doesn't apply to customers using SNAP or WIC.) Only four counties opted into the fee—NYC, Albany, Tompkins, Suffolk and Ulster.