On March 1, 2020, with a few exceptions, single use plastic carry-out bags became illegal throughout New York State. In NYC, a five-cent fee is now charged if you want a paper bag. Three cents goes to the NY state environmental protection fund and 2 cents goes to NYC to be used to purchase and distribute free disposable bags.
Why is this being done?
• Billions of plastic bags are used and discarded each year in New York State causing litter problems in our neighborhoods, getting stuck in trees, floating in water, clogging sewer drains, and filling up landfills.
• Plastic is not biodegradable. It can take up to 1000 years to totally decompose. Our oceans and waterways are being harmed across the world. Marine life is being sickened and killed because they mistake plastic for food.
• The average time a plastic bag is used is only 12 minutes.
• Millions of gallons of oil are used in the production of these bags. What do we do now?
• BYOB – Bring your own bag. This means you should keep a few reusable canvas or heavier plastic bags in your car or on you when you go shopping. They can be purchased for about 99 cents, or you can find a place where the city is giving them out for free. The more you can reuse the better.
• If you forget your bag, then you can purchase a paper one for 5 cents or try to manage without it.
• Is this just for grocery stores?
Answer – No, it is for all retail stores including clothes stores and even Home Depot.
• Why can’t we just recycle plastic bags with the other plastic and metal?
Answer – NYC recycling facilities cannot recycle bags. They cause constant problems with the equipment, and should not be mixed with your other recyclables.
• Will stores make a lot money from collecting 5 cents from everyone?
Answer – No, they turn over the 5 cents to state and city.
• Don’t paper bags cause environmental problems too?
Answer – Yes, the best thing is to get bags you can wash and reuse many times.
• Our government is just making middle class life difficult, and nobody else is doing this, right?
Answer – No, more than 300 municipalities across the United States now ban or charge fees for single-use plastic bags. Over one hundred other countries now have some plastic bag regulations.
• Will this really make any difference?
Answer – Yes, it should – Other cities have had dramatic decreases in plastic bag litter.
• What about other plastics?
Answer – They can cause problems too, and even though many items say recyclable, it doesn’t mean it’s always being done. Think about all the disposable plastics you use, and try to find an alternative.