New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags every year, almost all of which are used once and then discarded. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes but spend thousands of years in a landfill. Aside from never biodegrading, plastic bags contaminate the recycling stream, harm aquatic environments and wildlife, and pollute our communities. It’s nearly impossible to walk outside without seeing a plastic bag.
“The New York State Bring Your Own Bag Act” establishes the necessary and appropriate framework to shift consumer behavior to ditch single-use bags, including the use of paper bags. To shift consumer behavior municipalities who have already banned the plastic bag have incorporated a fee on paper bags, which is a crucial incentive to get customers to bring their own bags.
Data collected from jurisdictions where plastic bag bans have been implemented without a fee on paper bags have clearly shown that customer behavior does not change - customers simply switch to another single-use product. In fact, many jurisdictions saw an increase in paper bag use. A ban accompanied by a fee is the most effective way to achieve the environmental goals of reduced waste and litter.
This bill is the gold standard of “ban the bag” legislation by incorporating a ban on plastic bags, plus a fee on paper bags, as well as providing for appropriate preemption language to ensure municipalities already taking more stringent steps in this space can lawfully continue their programs.
This bill would emend the Environmental Conservation Law, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and the State Finance Law, to establish guidelines for carryout bag waste reduction.