The New York State Bag Waste Reduction Law
Sunday, March 1st brings the Bag Waste Reduction Law, more commonly known as the plastic bag ban, to those of us here in New York State. With all of the (sometimes conflicting) information out there about the law, it can be a little confusing as to what the ban really means to you as a consumer or as someone whose industry will be affected by the change.
Let’s dig in a little bit to clear it up.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has put the ban in place to eliminate single-use plastic bags, the bags that are most commonly handed out by retailers. The overall goal of the ban is to reduce waste and the environmental impact that these bags have when littered. According to the DEC, over 23 billion plastic bags are used in New York State annually, many of which end up in trees, on roadsides, in waterways and neighborhoods.
What happens on March 1st?
Once the ban goes into effect, retailers are expected to no longer distribute plastic carryout bags at the checkout counter, instead offering paper bags at a cost of five cents each.
Keep in mind that customers will still be allowed to bring in and use a single-use bag from home. Alternately shoppers can bring in their own more environmentally friendly reusable shopping bags, which the DEC defines as a multi-use bag made of fabric that can be washed or a durable plastic bag with handles.
Exemptions to the Law
There are 11 exemptions for what the Waste Reduction Law constitutes as a single-use plastic bag. These may still remain in circulation after March 1st:
- Bags that are solely used to wrap uncooked meat, poultry or fish
- Bags used to fill with bulk candy, nuts, grains, etc. fruits and vegetables
- Garment bags commonly used at dry cleaners
- Newspaper subscription bags (used to keep papers dry when delivered)
- Sandwich bags
- Trash bags
- Carryout bags from restaurants
- Bags provided by pharmacies to carry medication
- Deli meat bags
- Pre-packaged single-use bags sold to consumers (think cat litter and dog waste bags)
- Food storage bags such as freezer bags
Also, it’s important to note that those using the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) assistance programs to purchase groceries will be exempt from the five-cent paper bag charge.
So that sums it up. For more information on the Bag Waste Reduction Law please see the Department of Environmental Conservation website, and see our website for a selection of eco-conscious and ban compliant reusable bags that will get your logo seen again and again!