Cuomo budget to include statewide ban on single-use plastic bags

Source: Riverhead Local

Cuomo budget to include statewide ban on single-use plastic bags


Posted: January 16, 2019
Originally Published: January 14, 2019

Single-use plastic bags would be banned statewide under a new proposal being advanced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor yesterday announced his intention to include the ban in his 2019 executive budget. He also announced that his budget will include an expansion of the state’s bottle bill to make most non-alcoholic drink containers eligible for 5-cent redemption.

The single-use plastic bag ban will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal, from petroleum used to produce the bags to emissions from the transportation of bags to landfills, the governor’s office said in a statement. New Yorkers use billions of plastic bags annually, according to the statement.

Environmental advocacy groups welcomed the initiative.

“This is the beginning of the end for the scourge of plastic bag pollution in New York,” Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Riverkeeper said in a joint statement.

But the organizations called for a mandatory fee on paper bags “to avoid a serious increase in paper waste and pollution.”

A 5-cent fee on single-use plastic bags went into effect in Suffolk on Jan. 1, 2018 and the law had a dramatic impact on consumer behavior, according to Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which advocated for its passage.

The group conducted surveys at grocery stores across Suffolk County, one just before the law took effect and a second one on the weekend of April 7-8. Teams of volunteers observed 20,000 people in December 2017 and 6,000 people in April.

Prior to the 5-cent bag fee law, 71 percent of the public were using plastic bags in December, according to CCE. In April, only 30 percent of the public were taking plastic bags. Reusable bag use shot up from 6 percent of shoppers to 43 percent, the organization said. Shoppers who didn’t bring reusable bags often carried out items without any bags, the survey found.

Cuomo opposed a plastic bag fee enacted by New York City in 2017 and with state legislators stepped in to block its implementation. He created a state task force to develop a statewide solution, but it failed to reach a consensus.

Last year Cuomo introduced a program bill to ban single-use carryout plastic bags statewide. That bill would have pre-empted local government’s authority to adopt laws like Suffolk’s. It failed to gain support of some environmental advocates and faced bipartisan opposition in the legislature.

The governor’s office did not release text of his new proposal or any additional details. Cuomo is scheduled to give his “state of the state” address tonight.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation will “work with stakeholders and community leaders to ensure the roll-out of this initiative does not disproportionately impact low and moderate income and environmental justice communities through the distribution of reusable bags and exemptions where appropriate,” according to the statement released yesterday.