New York State Announces Bill to Ban Plastic Bags

Connector Spring 2018

NY State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo embraced a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags on April 23, introducing a bill to outlaw them by next year.

The three-page bill, introduced by the governor a day after Earth Day, comes a little more than a year after he blocked a 5-cent surcharge that New York City had sought to place on single-use plastic bags.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Governor Cuomo described the measure as an effort to counteract the “blight of plastic bags” that is taking “a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources.”

If the bill were to pass, New York would join California, which approved a statewide ban of plastic bags in 2016. Hawaii has a de facto ban on plastic bags; all of its counties have instituted bans.

But the measure faces an uncertain path in the Legislature, where leaders of the Assembly and the Senate had opposed the city’s bill. A spokesman for Carl E. Heastie, the Assembly speaker, said the Assembly had been generally supportive of a ban but not a fee.

The measure would very likely face a stiffer challenge in the Senate, which is run by Republicans. A Senate spokesman had no immediate comment.

Governor Cuomo’s opposition to the city measure was similarly centered on the fee structure; he said at the time that the bill was “deeply flawed” because it allowed merchants to keep the 5-cent fee as profit, a giveaway that he said would total $100 million a year.

Monday’s proposal came as a result of a report in January by a task force that Mr. Cuomo convened last year after blocking the city bill. A ban was one of eight options entertained by that report, though it also outlined a number of drawbacks, including the fact that paper bags, an alternative to plastic, cost retailers “three to five times as much as single-use plastic bags.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, a variety of bags would be exempted from the ban, including those that contains raw meat, fish or poultry; bags sold in bulk; those used in bulk packages of fruit and dried goods; those used for deli products; newspaper bags; trash, food storage and garment bags; and takeout food bags. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation would also be allowed to exempt certain bags through regulations.

Source: The New York Times