Blogs > Take Action > Ulster County launches “BYOBag” while Albany County considers straw and paper bags laws

Ulster County launches “BYOBag” while Albany County considers straw and paper bags laws


The author brought his own bag, of course.
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Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, legislators Tracey Bartels and Kathy Nolan kick off the county’s new BYOBag law.

On Monday, July 15th, Ulster County’s BYOBag law banning plastic bags and imposing a 5 cent fee on paper bags will go into effect. The new law will encourage shoppers to remember their reusable bags, and will help keep single-use plastic bags out of our environment and waterways. Riverkeeper and our members played a critical role in passing this local law in 2018. 

This local law contributed to the movement to ban single use plastic bags statewide. In the 2019-2020 New York State budget, Governor Cuomo and the legislature enacted a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, which will go into effect March 1st, 2020.

The statewide ban also creates an option for counties and cities (but not towns or villages) to opt into a 5 cent fee on paper bags to further motivate shoppers to use reusable bags. However, across the state, only Ulster, Suffolk and New York City have opted into the 5 cent fee to reduce consumption of paper bags. We encourage citizens across New York State to contact their city and county elected officials to encourage them to place a fee on paper so we don’t replace one problem with another. 

Funds collected by the fee with support environmental efforts on both a state and county level with 3-cents of the fee going to the state Environmental Protection Fund, and 2-cents will return to the county or city to fund reusable bag giveaways.   

Bring Your Own Bag

The author brought his own bag, of course.

What’s next in the fight against plastic pollution after plastic bags? One item to consider reducing is single-use plastic straws. Riverkeeper volunteers frequently find plastic straws and stirrers on shorelines during our annual cleanup. A policy solution to reduce plastic straw and stirrer pollution is with a “skip the straw” law for restaurants to only provide straws upon request. Ulster County has already passed a law, and a similar policy is also under consideration in Albany County. 

If you live in Albany County – consider attending a July 23 public hearing to consider a “skip the straw” law and consider opting the county into the state’s 5-cent fee on paper bags. The July 23public hearing begins at 7:15 pm at the County Courthouse on Eagle Street. If you cannot attend, please consider writing  to your county legislator in support of these local laws. 

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