New York Bans Plastic Bags

As reported recently in The New York Times, New York state will ban most plastic bag use, starting next March. New York joins California and Hawaii as the only states to take such sweeping measures to combat the proliferation of these non-recyclable plastic bags. Advocates of the ban cite the spectacle of litter everywhere as well as the carbon cost of producing the bags as reasons enough to support the new legislation. Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky told CNN affiliate WCBS last week that the plastic bag ban was a longtime coming. “Every year, there are billions — billions with a ‘b’ — of bags that are thrown away after just one use,” said Kaminsky. “The average plastic bag use is about 12 minutes … we just have this disposable plastic craze and it is adding up.”

From the NYT article we read that the New York ban “…would forbid stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags, which are non-biodegradable and have been blamed for everything from causing gruesome wildlife deaths to thwarting recycling efforts.” According to the NY state government site, New Yorkers use more than 10 billion single-use carryout bags every year and it costs the City more than $12 million annually to dispose of these bags. Most bags end up in landfills, where they take thousands of years to decompose. Those that don’t end up stuck in trees and bushes, clogging storm drains, and littering beaches.

There are exclusions planned for restaurant delivery bags, oversized items, and bags used for meat products. Paper bags will still be available, at a cost, but the goal is clearly to push for consumers to bring their own reusable bags.

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