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Single-use plastic bag ban passed. Here’s what you should know!

NY bag ban on the brink!

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Plastic bag banNew York lawmakers have passed a ban on single-use plastic bags in the state budget agreement April 1. This is a big victory in the fight against plastic pollution and follows years of disagreement over the issue. State lawmakers kicked the question of fees on other carryout bags, including paper, to local governments.  

The single-use plastic bag will be banned by March 1, 2020. Garment bags, prescription bags, produce bags, and others are exempt from the plastic bag prohibition.

Under the new law, counties and cities can opt into a 5-cent paper bag fee. Three 3-cents of the fee will go to the New York State Environmental Protection Fund to generate additional revenue for environmental programs and parks statewide, while 2-cents will go to the county or city government to aid in customer education and reusable bag giveaways, with priority to low and fixed income New Yorkers.

The ban with the optional fee opt-in comes on the heals up a report from Suffolk County that showed an 80 percent drop in paper and plastic bag usage with their county-wide 5-cent fee on all carryout bags, reducing nearly 1 billion plastic bags.

This is a huge win for clean water, as every day the plastic pollution problem worsens. This would not have happened without the tireless effort of activists from Buffalo to Brooklyn and everywhere in between calling and writing their elected representatives and demanding that the plastic pollution crisis is addressed. Riverkeeper members alone sent thousands of letters to elected officials.

While we advocated hard for a statewide consistent fee on paper bags, we encourage local government to opt-in to the critical fee on paper to help ensure communities have policies that will encourage consumers to use reusable shopping bags.

We are grateful to Governor Cuomo, Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Heastie, and the Environmental Conservation Committee chairmen Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright for their work to make New York the first state on the east coast to ban the plastic bag.

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