New York's plastic bag ban to go into effect in March 2020

Olive Hawkins
March 30, 2019

The legislation which bans use on all single-use plastic bags will most likely be married to a 5-cent fee on paper bags.

Negotiations on other aspects of Cuomo's proposed $175 billion spending plan are continuing Friday, with the Senate and Assembly expected to start passing budget bills Sunday. The ban would go into effect March 1, 2020.

California was the first state to ban plastic bags in August 2014.

Grocery and convenience stores, and other food, beverage and service establishments will be banned from using or selling plastic bags under the proposal.

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The Food Industry Alliance, which represents many in the state's grocery industry, issued a statement earlier this year opposing Cuomo's proposal to ban plastic bags. In fact, a recent survey of our members found that approximately 16,773 tons of co-mingled plastic bags have been recycled by retail food stores. Paper bags are biodegradable, but several studies including one from the United Kingdom's Environmental Agency, have pointed out they still require significant amounts of water to produce and generate greenhouse gases when manufactured. "Independent businesses are simply not able to absorb and adjust to new mandated costs the same as their big-box competitors".

That said, a plastic bag ban will not promote the utilization of reusable bags and will in fact increase the use of paper bags. The move will "create a cleaner and greener NY for all", according to Cuomo.

Despite plastic's notoriously harmful impact on the natural environment and on wildlife, few American states - with the exception of environmentally-minded bastions on the West Coast - have pursued legal restrictions.

Another provision set for the budget would impose congestion tolls to ease traffic in the busiest parts of Manhattan and fund transit improvements, but details are still being discussed.

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