New York Officially Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

This week New York took a big step for the environment when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law on Earth Day that will ban the sale of single-use plastic bags throughout the state.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, it’s estimated that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags every year, while other nationwide studies show that about half of single-use plastic bags end up as litter.

“You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage,” Governor Cuomo said. ”Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We need to stop using plastic bags, and today we’re putting an end to this blight on our environment.”

The new law, which will go into effect in March next year, will not only eliminate the use of oil to produce plastic bags, but also keep them from polluting the environment, hurting and killing wildlife, and will save money being spent on both disposal and repairs of recycling and wastewater treatment equipment that’s damaged by them.

“At our annual Riverkeeper Sweep, volunteers remove tons of plastics, including single-use bags from NewYork’s shorelines,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “Plastic pollution is a regional scourge as well as a global emergency. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the legislature for banning the plastic bag in New York and continued investments in clean water infrastructure.”

In an effort to stop people from swapping one form of waste for another (because paper bags aren’t that great for the environment either), under the new law counties and cities will also be allowed to charge a five cent fee for single-use paper bags and merchants won’t be keeping it as a profit. Instead, three cents from the fee will go to the Environmental Protection Fund, while the other two cents will go to the locality charging the fee to pay for the distribution of reusable bags, which New York City has just done.

“New York continues to be a national leader on environmental issues, and the plastic bag ban is the latest in a series of important actions Governor Cuomo has initiated to preserve our air, land, and waters, and our future. DEC is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts and will continue to work closely with the Governor, Legislature and the public to develop solutions that benefit our environment and economy,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

New York is now the third state to completely ban single-use plastic bags, following California, which has a statewide ban, and Hawaii, where all counties have enacted bans, and more are considering similar moves.

Hopefully New York’s ban on single-use plastic bags will also raise awareness about the issues surrounding our use of single-use plastics and encourage more people to be more conscientious about our actions and take steps to reduce our overall waste.

Photo credit: Getty Images

76 comments

Jacqueline G
Jacqueline GLYDEabout a month ago

March next year??? WTF is wrong with this year?

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Susan Fong
Susan Fongabout a month ago

This is great news. Single use plastic bags should be banned everywhere.

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Jennifer H
Jennifer Habout a month ago

Good news. Thanks for sharing.

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

Leaders should lead!

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Martha P
Maria P1 months ago

thanks for the update

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney1 months ago

Fantastic Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney1 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney1 months ago

Great Thank you for caring and sharing reat

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney1 months ago

Goos news Thank you for caring and sharing

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Marija Mohoric
Marija Mohoric1 months ago

Great!

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