New York City Council passed its Bring Your Own Bag Law on May 5, 2016. This law would have required merchants to charge a 5 cent fee to carryout plastic and paper bags sold within all 5 boroughs beginning on February 15, 2017.
In a city that sends over 9 billion plastic bags to landfills annually, this legislation was a no-brainer. Bag fee laws have been implemented throughout the country, including Washington DC, and have documented a significant reduction in plastic pollution.
Unfortunately, in response to this bill, the New York State Legislature passed legislation issuing a moratorium on NYC's bag law. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it, and now the NYC City Council must wait one year before discussing a new bag fee law. In the interim, NY/NJ Baykeeper will continue working with the BagItNYC Coalition and local and state partners to push forward policies protecting our waters from plastic waste.
Plastic Bag Fees Make Sense, Just Not to Albany, The New York Times, 2/17/17
Cuomo Blocks New York City's Plastic Bag Fee, The Record, 2/15/17
Even though the Bag Law wasn't passed, you can still help prevent plastic waste. Check out these commonly asked questions and answers.
Q. I use plastic bags to pick up after my dog. What can I use instead?
A. We live in a society where plastic is just about everywhere. You can repurpose used sandwich bags, chip bags, or the plastic bag your cereal comes in for dog waste.
Q. Plastic bags are free for now. Why should I stop using them?
A. Using reusable bags will prevent plastic litter and wastefulness in our communities and waterways. New York City consumers use nearly 9.37 billion carryout bags annually. The costs of disposing this volume of single use bags can reach nearly $12.5 million per year. In a way, you are paying for plastic bags regardless of the fee.
Q. Won't a bag fee law negatively impact low-income communities?
A. No. The bag fee law is not a tax so no one has to pay. Consumers can refuse a bag or bring their own reusable bags. Low-income communities are impacted by litter the most. A bag fee will prevent and reduce litter from ending up on streets, playgrounds, lawns, and waterways.
Have another question? Contact Sandra at [email protected]
Communications and Outreach Associate