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Cuomo Announces Plan To Ban Plastic Bags

A day after the world celebrated Earth Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a bill that would ban plastic bags throughout the state.
A day after the world celebrated Earth Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a bill that would ban plastic bags throughout the state. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

A day after the world celebrated Earth Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a bill that would ban plastic bags throughout the state.

Poll
What do you think of the bill to ban single-use plastic bags in New York?
Current Results

What do you think of the bill to ban single-use plastic bags in New York?

  • Love it
    46%
  • Hate it
    46%
  • Don't care
    8%

Cuomo announced on Monday that he has introduced legislation that would ban single-use, plastic carryout bags based on the recommendation of the New York State Plastic Bags Task Force, which “outlined the environmental impact” of reducing the use of the bags at retail locations.

Led by State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos along with co-chairs Sen. Thomas O'Mara and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, the Task Force was tasked with conducting a study and developing a solution to the use and disposal of plastic bags and how best to deter their environmental impact.

The Task Force conducted a survey of more than a dozen municipalities throughout the state that currently have plastic bag laws in effect. The Task Force also received more than 550 responses to a survey released last year.

In addition to the legislation, the state will undertake an education and outreach campaign to increase consumer awareness of single-use bags and their harmful impact on the environment, according to Cuomo. Education efforts will also seek to educate consumers of the impact plastic bags have on the environment and the waste stream, and promote use of reusable bags.

"The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment," Cuomo said in a statement. "As the old proverb goes: 'We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children,' and with this action we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 80 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean originated on land, which includes plastic bags, and in New York, residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually, which contributes to pollution both on and off land. These bags do not biodegrade and they persist for years.

"Plastic pollution has become a serious threat to our lakes, rivers and marine environment as well as public health. Scientists are finding plastic pollution in shellfish and finfish, making its way to our dinner plates,” Citizens  Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito added. “Giving up plastic bags and using reusable bags is one easy, reasonable step each member of the public can take to help combat the plastic pollution epidemic. It is time for everyone to get on the plastic bag 'ban wagon.”

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