New York Finally Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags!

Top of Empire State Building at sunrise - State Bans Plastic Bags

Empire State Plastic Bag Ban to Begin in 2020

People are turning to reusable grocery bags in New York and we couldn’t be happier! Single-use plastic bags will no longer be handed out in stores across New York after March 1, 2020. This ban comes after years of back and forth efforts to reduce the use of plastic and negative environmental impacts. The ban also includes an optional fee on single-use paper bags, which so far appears to not be widely adopted. Learn more about what led to the ban and the details about the paper bag fee.

History of Bag Bans in NY

The bag ban movement has been gaining momentum in New York for several years now. There has been strong interest in bag bans in Westchester County, where towns like Larchmont, Mamaroneck, and Rye all have bans in place. Several towns in the Hamptons also have implemented single-use plastic bag bans. New York City has repeatedly tried to pass plastic bags or impose fees on the use of these types of bags.

In the past couple of years, interest is bag bans have started to spread further north. Ulster County recently passed a ban that will go into action in July 2019. Both Warren and Madison Counties have both considered passing single-use plastic bag bans of their own.

Action at the State Level

New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has long supported the idea of banning single-use plastic bags; however, he felt this type of legislation should happen at the state level. When different cities and counties pass their own unique laws it can cause confusion for residents and customers. The notion was that one law the covers the entire state would be uniform and easier for everyone.

Many New Yorkers thought the bag ban was going to come sooner than it did. In 2017, a task force was assembled to look into the plastic problem in New York and recommend appropriate action. It had been rumored that this task force would recommend a single-use plastic bag ban, but that did not happen.

Instead, the task force only concluded that plastic pollution is bad for the planet. A few months later in early 2018, a bill proposed by the governor called to ban disposable plastic bags throughout the state and pre-empt any existing bans and fees.

Details of the Ban

In April 2019, the proposal was signed into law. Effective March 1, 2020, single-use plastic bags will be banned in retail establishments in New York. Each county has the option of levying a 5-cent fee on paper bags. That fee will be divided between the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and the local governments.

To date, several counties, including Chemung, Livingston, Nassau, Niagara, and Monroe have indicated they will not add the fee. New York City has indicated the fee will be implemented. The remaining counties have not publicly announced their plans regarding the fee.

Stay In the Know

Find out more about the plastic bag ban movement and find out what the remaining counties in New York decide to do regarding the paper bag ban fee by visiting our plastic bag ban map. We update this map to track the bag ban movement. If you know of any locations not currently on the map that should be, let us know!


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