Today in observance of Earth Day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York starting in March 2020, which Cuomo says is a significant step to reduce pollution and protect fish and wildlife.
“You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage,” Governor Cuomo said. “Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We need to stop using plastic bags, and today we’re putting an end to this blight on our environment.”
The legislation signed today bans the provision of single-use, plastic carryout bags at any point of sale, and provides DEC exclusive jurisdiction over all matters related to plastic bags. Under the new law, garment bags, trash bags and any bags used to wrap or contain certain foods, such as fruits and sliced meats are exempt from the ban. Counties or cities will also be permitted to charge a five cent fee for single-use paper bags. Three cents from the fee will go to the Environmental Protection Fund, while the other two cents will go to the locality to pay for distribution of reusable bags.
New York joins California and Hawaii as the only states where single-use plastic bags are banned.