By Maria Rocha-Buschel
All plastic carryout bags will be banned in stores throughout New York State starting on March 1. Under the new law, which passed last March, plastic carryout bags will not be distributed to consumers at any businesses that collect New York State sales tax, and stores will be implementing a five-cent paper carry-out bag fee.
The five-cent fee on paper bags will not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) recipients and all consumers are encouraged to bring their own bags to reduce waste. Film plastics will still be used on items such as bread bags, cases of water, paper towels and other similar items, and customers are encouraged to recycle those items at participating retailers.
There are still some bags that are exempt from the law and can still be distributed to customers under limited circumstances, including produce bags for fruits and vegetables and bags used by pharmacies for prescription drugs.
State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein were both cosponsors of bills that passed in the state legislature last year banning single-use plastic bags, and the elected officials penned an op-ed for Town & Village last week, outlining the ban’s importance for the environment.
“This new law is an important step in our efforts to clean up our city and address the ongoing climate crisis,” the legislators wrote. “It’s time to end our throw-away attitude on plastic bags and move to a more sustainable future for consumers and the environment alike.”
New York City initially passed a law in 2017 that would have implemented a five-cent fee on plastic bags, but the effort was blocked at the last minute by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who later announced a task force on the effect of plastic bags and a statewide effort to ban them.
Councilmember Keith Powers’ office will offer reusable bags during the next mobile office hours at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center on Thursday, February 27 from noon to 2 p.m.