NEW YORK — That stash of plastic bags stuffed in a cabinet won’t have much of a chance to grow in New York starting Sunday.
A single-use plastic bag ban goes into effect. New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags each year and that means plastic waste left in waterways, streets and landfills. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to ban the bags in April of 2019.
“Right this minute, plastic bags are hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, filling up our landfills and polluting our lakes, rivers and streams—all hurting our environment,” 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 took bold action to protect our environment and ban these environmental blights and with this campaign we’re going to make sure New Yorkers are ready and have all the facts.”
Stores in the state will not be allowed to give out single-use bags. Cities and counties can adopt 5 cent fees for paper bags; the money goes to both the local government and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The fee will not apply to SNAP and WIC customers.
Shoppers are encouraged to bring reusable bags to stores.
Some plastic bags, including ones used to carry prescription bags and produce bags for bulk items, are exempt. A full list of exempt bags is available here.