Governor wants to ban single-use plastic bags in stores in St. Lawrence County, rest of NY
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - 5:31 pm

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has introduced a bill that would ban all single-use, plastic carryout bags at any point of sale in New York state.

This action follows the release of the New York State Plastic Bags Task Force report in January. The document outlined the environmental impact of plastic bags, single-use bag reduction measures, and proposed actions that the state could take to reduce pollution and protect New York's natural resources, including a ban on single-use plastic bags, according to Cuomo’s office.

Cuomo launched the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force in March 2017 to conduct a study and develop a comprehensive solution to the use and disposal of plastic bags and how best to deter their environmental impact. The Task Force is led by State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos along with co-chairs Senator Thomas O'Mara and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, according to the governor’s office.

The Task Force conducted a survey of more than a dozen municipalities in New York State that currently have plastic bag laws. The Task Force also encouraged public comment on the issue and received 558 responses between March and December 2017.

Based on recommendations included in the report, Cuomo is introducing a program bill that would ban the provision of single-use, plastic carryout bags at any point of sale, and would provide the Department of Environmental Conservation with exclusive jurisdiction over all matters related to plastic bags and film plastic recycling. The bill exempts garment bags, trash bags and any bags used to wrap or contain certain foods, such as fruits and sliced meats. The bill would go into effect on Jan. 1, according to Cuomo’s office.

In addition to the legislation, the state will undertake an education and outreach campaign to increase consumer awareness of single-use bags and their harmful impact on the environment. Education efforts will also seek to educate consumers of the impact plastic bags have on the environment and the waste stream, and promote use of reusable bags, Cuomo’s office said.

A ban on single-use plastic carryout bags will “significantly reduce” waste and environmental impacts, Cuomo’s office said. In addition, the ban will “reduce the raw materials and natural resources used to make, transport, and recycle these bags. Fewer carryout bags given away at checkout could result in decreased recycling and disposal costs for municipalities and municipal recycling facilities,” Cuomo’s office said.

Ten cities, towns, and villages in New York have enacted plastic bag bans.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 80 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean originated on land, which includes plastic bags, and in New York, residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually, which contributes to pollution both on and off land. These bags do not biodegrade and they persist for years, Cuomo’s office said.