A year later: Suffolk used 1.1 billion fewer plastic bags


By: Adina Genn March 22, 2019

The Suffolk County carryout bag law that aimed to reduce single-use bags has changed shopping habits and reduced the use of plastic, officials said.

The county used 1.1 billion fewer bags since the carryout bag law was passed last year, according to a report.

“Plastic pollution is a global issue that we are confronting locally with successful results,” Legis. William Spencer said in a statement about the study.

The law to reduce the use of carryout bags in retail sales went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The law required stores to charge customers a minimum fee of 5 cents for carryout bags provided at shops. The law aimed to encourage consumers to bring reusable bags for shopping and to reduce the environmental impacts associated with single-use bags.

“We have made a difference in Suffolk County, and I believe we can make a difference around the world,” Spencer said.

“Suffolk County should be proud of this significant reduction of 1 billion plastic bags per year,” Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“This is an exciting and meaningful reduction of our plastic waste,” she added. “As more and more evidence mounts about the dangers of plastic pollution it is critical that we change our behavior and reduce our use of plastics and that’s exactly what Suffolk County has achieved.”

According to the study, plastic and paper bag use at stores dropped 80 percent. More than 62 percent of shoppers are bringing their own bags or opting for no bag.  Consumers who still opt for single-use bags are using fewer of them per visit. And there are 41 percent fewer plastic bag litter found on local beaches.