ALBANY, N.Y. – This week, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that prohibits nearly all single-use plastic bags, joining California and Hawaii with a statewide bag regulation, the Times-Union reports. The ban will go into effect March 2020.
The law forbids any retailer that collects sales tax from giving out single-use plastic bags. Exceptions include garment bags, trash bags, plastic restaurant takeout wrappings, and any bags used to hold specific foods, such as sliced meats and fruit.
“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,” said Cuomo. “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 New York Department of Environmental Conservation will ensure the new restriction doesn’t disproportionately harm low- and moderate-income localities, as well as work with environmental organizations to hand out reusable bags.
Also tucked into the law is permission for cities or counties to charge a nickel per single-use paper bag fee. Three pennies from that fee would be earmarked for the Environmental Protection Fund, while a city or county could pocket the other two pennies to fund reusable-bag distribution.