Some very positive environmental steps forward have been taken this week, with a ban on single-use plastic bags having now been implemented throughout the state of New York.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation on Earth Day (April 22), with the new law coming into effect as of March 1, 2020.
Under this new law, grocery stores will be banned from providing single-use plastic bags to customers for the majority of purchases.
The state has also introduced a five cent paper bag fee, in a bid to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags from home.
Some of the revenue from this paper bag fee will be use to provide free reusable bags to residents, particularly those from lower-income communities. The rest of the revenue will go towards supporting New York’s Environmental Protection Fund.
It is anticipated the plastic bag ban will help reduce the number of plastic bags clogging up New York landfills and waterways, causing damage to ecosystems.
Furthermore, this ban will eliminate the estimated 12 million barrels of oil which are being used to make plastic bags for New Yorkers on an annual basis, as reported by Forbes.
This #EarthDay I’m proud to sign legislation banning the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York State.
Plastic bag pollution will soon be history. pic.twitter.com/8gf287qOL5
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 22, 2019
Governor Cuomo made the following statement, according to CBS:
With this smart, multi-pronged action New York will be leading the way to protect our natural resources now and for future generations of New Yorkers.
An estimated 23 billion plastic bags are used in New York each year, with a dismal 50 per cent of these bags ending up either in landfills or around the city and waterways.
This legislation comes after Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force in March 2017 with the team working together to develop a long-term solution to the issue of plastic bags in New York.
According to the task force’s final report:
Throughout New York State, plastic bags have become a ubiquitous sight on the landscape. They can be seen stuck in trees, as litter in our neighborhoods, floating in our waterways and as a general aesthetic eyesore of our environment.
Single-use plastic bags are a detriment to the health of communities and the environment alike.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed the state’s plastic bag ban, but it won’t go into effect until 2020 pic.twitter.com/B7BqnPqpb1
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) April 23, 2019
New York is the third state in America to implement this sort of widespread ban. In November 2016, California introduced a state wide ban, with the law leading to cleaner beaches and reduced cleanup costs.
Hawaii also has an effective statewide ban in place, with counties being free to implement their own restriction.
Well done to New York for recognizing the harmful effects of plastic pollution and doing something about it.