New York Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags and Implements Fee on Paper Bags

Connector Spring 2019

New York State lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales, changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers as legislators seek to curb an unsightly and omnipresent source of litter.

The plan, proposed a year ago by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, is the second statewide ban, after California, which banned bags in 2016. Hawaii also effectively has a ban in place, since all the state’s counties bar such single-use bags.

New York’s ban, which begins next March, will forbid stores to provide customers with single-use plastic bags.

The ban will have a number of exceptions, including food takeout bags used by restaurants, bags used to wrap deli or meat counter products and bags for bulk items. Newspaper bags are also exempted, as are garment bags and bags sold in bulk, such as trash or recycling bags.

Council also voted 38-9 to approve a bill that will establish a five-cent “paper carryout bag reduction fee” to accompany the upcoming statewide plastic bag ban.

Following guidelines set forth in the state legislation, the city will receive two cents from every fee “for the purpose of purchasing and distributing reusable bags, with priority given to low- and fixed-income communities.” Customers using various income assistance programs will be exempt from the fee entirely.

The paper bag fee, like the statewide plastic bag ban, will take effect in March 2020.

Supporters said that such a two-pronged approach – paper and plastic – was necessary not only to limit the flow of litter into the state’s streets, streams and oceanfront, but also to minimize the greenhouse emissions caused by their production.

Source: The New York Times