Will New York Be The Next State to Implement a Plastic Bag Ban?
Will New York State Be The Next State to Pass a Plastic Bag Ban?
Plastic bag bans are becoming more common, and New York may be the next state to implement a ban of their own. New York State will likely pass a law regulating single-use plastic bags in the near future. A task force established by Governor Andrew Cuomo, regarding how to handle the influx of disposable plastic bags and the resulting litter, is poised to make a recommendation by the end of the year.
Background of the Task Force
New York City worked for several years to pass a 5-cent fee on disposable plastic bags. There were groups working against the fee and eventually the fee was overruled. Governor Cuomo was a proponent of the fee but acknowledged the proposal was flawed. In order to get things right, Cuomo created a task force to examine the impact of plastic bags and bag fees or bans. Cuomo also felt an effective solution should be applied to the entire state, instead of specific areas imposing laws. No one knows yet what exactly the task force will recommend, but just about everyone is in agreement that the recommendation will be for an outright ban or to levy a fee.
Cuomo also felt an effective solution should be applied to the entire state, instead of specific areas imposing laws. No one knows yet what exactly the task force will recommend, but just about everyone is in agreement that the recommendation will be for an outright ban or to levy a fee.
Increase of Plastic Bag Bans
California passed a plastic bag ban law statewide and has been a hotbed of plastic bag bans for many years. San Francisco made waves when they first passed a bag ban in 2007. There was some legal maneuvering and plans changed a bit along the way, but eventually, San Francisco implemented their ban in 2012. Once San Francisco’s ban became official over 100 cities and municipalities followed suit.
In 2016 the California plastic bag ban went into effect statewide. Plastic bag bans have been on the rise throughout the entire U.S. Many cities and towns in Massachusetts are passing bans, and there are strong bag ban movements in Texas and Florida.
Recycling Falls Short
Single-use plastic bags are recyclable, but they are seldom recycled. Few recycling facilities accept disposable plastic bags, making it a challenge for consumers to pass the bags along for recycling.
Recyclers are often reluctant to accept plastic bags because they are difficult to process. The thin film easily becomes stuck in machinery, making it necessary to shut everything down and remove the obstruction. The time it takes to process the bags for recycling makes it cost prohibitive for most recyclers.
Environmental Impact of Trash
Since recycling is difficult most disposable plastic bags end up in the trash or discarded as litter. The lightweight design of plastic bags makes them more likely to be lifted out of an open garbage can or landfill by a gust of wind. Even if the bag is thrown in the garbage it can still easily end up as litter.
Once in a landfill or stuck in a tree the bags will take up space pretty much forever. Plastic does not safely break down or biodegrade. Plastic bag litter is an eyesore that incurs a lot of time and expense to clean up. Plastic bag trash is also a health risk to animals, particularly marine animals that can easily mistake the bags as food or become tangled in bags.
Effectiveness of Plastic Bag Bans
Plastic bag bans may seem like an intense reaction to trash, but bans are an effective solution when other efforts fall short. Recycling could work and would be a great solution given that plastic bags can be recycled indefinitely. However, low recycling rates make this an ineffective solution.
Voluntary measures and encouraging consumers or businesses to take action have also proven ineffective. Plastic bag bans are proven to reduce the use and negative environmental impact of single-use plastic bags.
Impact of Plastic Bag Bans on Communities
Plastic bag bans require the use of reusable bags. It takes time to form a reusable bag habit, but once consumers get into the habit it becomes second nature. Opponents of plastic bag bans often cite the difficulty and expense of bans and fees on low-income individuals. Fees and bans typically make exceptions for low-income shoppers.
Waiting to Learn the Recommendation
We are anxiously awaiting the recommendation issued by the New York task force. Once the recommendation is made there will still be some work that needs to happen to implement the next steps. It takes time to get used to plastic bag bans, but the benefits in terms of less trash and litter and better use of resources make all of the hard work worth it.
We will continue to monitor the action in New York and will update our plastic bag bans map as soon as we know the plan. If you have questions about creating custom reusable bags to use as promotional tools for your brand, fill out a quote request or contact us to learn more.Tagged