New York Governor Andrew M Cuomo has signed a new law that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in the US state beginning March 2020.
With this bill, New York joins California and Hawaii, which are the only states in the US where single-use plastic bags are banned.
The legislation focuses on reducing plastic pollution and protecting marine and wildlife. It will also help to lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal.
The new law restricts the supply of single-use plastic carry bags at any point of sale and allows the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to take exclusive control of all matters related to plastic bags.
However, the ban exempts garment, trash and food container bags.
DEC will work closely with stakeholders and community leaders to make sure the new law does not adversely affect low and moderate income and environmental justice communities through the distribution of reusable bags.
Cuomo said: “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.
“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.”
As part of the ban, counties or cities will have the option to charge a $0.05 fee for single-use paper bags. A total of $0.03 will go to the Environmental Protection Fund and the remaining $0.02 will be donated locally to pay for the distribution of reusable bags.
Chaired by commissioner Basil Seggos, Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force in March 2017 to develop a comprehensive solution to the plastic bag problem.
After analysing the impacts of single-use plastic bags, the task force offered several options for legislation to assist the government in developing a state-wide solution to the problem.