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Governor Cuomo: Don’t Break Your Promise on Plastic Bags

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Governor Cuomo signed a bill last February killing a New York City law that fairly addressed single-use plastic bag pollution. He promised a statewide task force and a plan to address plastic bag use statewide. Cuomo’s Plastic Bag Task Force released its report in January but failed to recommend a viable legislative solution. Governor Cuomo promised leadership but instead has left New Yorkers holding the bag.

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We use billions of single-use plastic bags across New York State each year.  Because of wind,  storm sewers, and littering, many of these lightweight bags end up on our streets and in waterways..  The average plastic bag is used for a mere 12 minutes, but persists over centuries, breaking down into smaller microplastic particles that plague our waterways and attract industrial contaminants.

2014 study by our partners at Clearwater and SUNY Fredonia found 62,000 particles of plastic per square kilometer in samples taken in the Hudson River by New York City. Plastic bags and microplastics are ubiquitous at our Riverkeeper Sweep cleanup sites throughout the Hudson River Estuary. The problem is obvious.

In December, 73 organizations sent a letter to Governor Cuomo and the Task Force detailing the importance of creating a statewide policy that will create lasting change. The letter draws on recommendations from the scientific community advocating for either a fee on both paper and plastic bags, or a ban on single-use plastic bags with a fee on all other bags. The goal is to encourage the use of reusable bags.

Growing numbers of municipalities and counties across New York State, including Suffolk County and the Village of Pleasantville, are taking matters into their own hands to implement solutions at the local level.

Governor Cuomo must follow through on his promise to address plastic bag pollution. Urge him to introduce strong legislation to address single-use plastic bags.

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