News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Riverkeeper Statement on the Ulster County Executive’s Signature of the Bring Your Own Bag Act of Ulster County

Riverkeeper Statement on the Ulster County Executive’s Signature of the Bring Your Own Bag Act of Ulster County

Kingston, NY — Ulster County Executive Michael P. Hein signed the Bring Your Own Bag Act (The BYOBag Act) of Ulster County on Friday, October 19th during a press conference in his office. The seminal law marks the first county in New York State to implement the gold standard of policies to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags — a ban on plastic bags with a 5-cent fee on recycled paper bags. Additionally, to protect economically vulnerable communities, the legislation will be amended to exempt those community members on SNAP and WIC assistance from the fee on recycled paper bags. The BYOBag Act passed the Ulster County Legislature by a 15-7 vote on September 20, 2018, and goes into effect on July 15, 2019.

“I am proud that Ulster County has become a national leader in protecting our environment while simultaneously embracing critical financial protections, and this law is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Legislator Bartels, the Energy and Environment Committee as well as Legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein in his press statement today. “I also want to commend the supporters of this law for embracing critical changes that made a strong and responsible law even better, and I look forward to working together to make this plastic bag ban a reality as we continue to protect our children, our families and our environment for generations to come.”

“Every year New Yorkers use more than 20 billion plastic bags. They choke our waterways, litter our streets, and clog our recycling equipment.  Scientists predict that plastics will soon outweigh fish in the world’s’ oceans. According to the the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we face environmental catastrophe if we fail to act,” said lead sponsor and Ulster County Legislator Tracey Bartels. “Today Ulster County commits to such action. The Bring Your Own Bag Bill is the result of years of diligent effort and its effect will be felt for generations. I am grateful to my legislative colleagues for their hard work and their patience throughout this process. Together we have brought forth legislation that all Ulster County can be proud of and that can stand as a model for the entire state.”

“Riverkeeper thanks and congratulates Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Legislature for crafting this visionary new law, which will cut plastic pollution, beautify our neighborhoods and make the Hudson cleaner and safer for people and wildlife, alike,” said Riverkeeper President, Paul Gallay. “Communities across the state and leaders in Albany should look to this new law as a model for their own efforts to promote cleaner and healthier places to live, work and play.”

Riverkeeper intends to continue its partnership with Ulster to help the county effectively implement the new law.

Riverkeeper’s direct experience with microplastic pollution on regional shorelines underscores its advocacy to eliminate plastic pollution in the Hudson River Estuary. The organization’s annual day of service, the Riverkeeper Sweep, brings out thousands of volunteers from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks to more than 100 cleanup sites, including several in Ulster County. Over the past 7 years, plastic bag pollution has made up one of the main sources of the marine debris picked up during the Riverkeeper Sweep.

Data gathered by Riverkeeper and other researchers point to the prevalence of microplastics in the Hudson River Estuary, which is a drinking water source for more than 100,000 residents in the Hudson River Valley.