A number of public officials and eco advocates came together earlier today to announce a proposal to ban plastic bags in the 2019-2020 New York State budget. Finally, local leaders are stepping up to take action on this issue. Assemblyman Sean Ryan was joined today by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and Associate Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment Brian Smith, who collectively stated that the goal is to place a ban retail stores from carrying plastic bags. The action serves to combat the scourge of single-use plastic bags that are laying waste to the environment, by ending up in our landfills and waterways. Most of these bags, and other single use plastic products, never fully break down, according to the trio of leaders and activists.
A proposal in the 2019-2020 New York State budget will call for a ban on carryout plastic bags from retail stores.
In a statement released hours ago, the champions of the eco action pointed out that “anywhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, and each of those bags is used for an average of 12 minutes.”
As an added incentive for shoppers to bring their own reusable bags when they shop, the leaders and activists are also calling for a five-cent fee to be charged for the use of individual paper bags. They noted that the manufacturing process and the shipping of the paper bags also pose a risk to the environment, from the energy and water used to make the bags, to the 14 million trees cut down every year. The five-cent fee would be allocated to the Environmental Protection Fund. The funds would be used for:
Education for decreasing plastic pollution
Distributing reusable bags to low or fixed-income communities
Cleanup of roads, shorelines, and waterways
“Our waterways, beaches and roadsides have been polluted by decades for single use plastic bags,” said Assemblyman Sean Ryan. “This ban will help us to protect our environment, and encourage consumers to bring reusable bags with them, which will drastically reduce the amount litter in our environment. I’m committed to helping this proposal be included in the upcoming budget, and I look forward to New York State taking another step in our efforts to preserve our environment for generations to come.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said: ”I fully support a ban of single-use plastic bags and I know many residents of Erie County feel the same way. Having previously called for a ban at the county level, I understand the importance of this issue. Banning carryout plastic bags from retail stores and earmarking a five-cent fee on the use of each paper bag for the environmental protection fund is an excellent strategy. We all must work together to decrease plastic pollution and at the same time increase the distribution of reusable shopping bags. As consumers we each have a role to play to protect our environment and this is a logical step to take. I applaud Assemblyman Ryan for his leadership on this very important issue.”
“Single-use plastic bags are costly, environmentally harmful, and completely unnecessary. Banning plastic bags will result in cleaner communities and healthier Great Lakes,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “We commend Assemblyman Ryan for pursuing a smart policy that includes a fee on paper bags, which will encourage the public to switch to the environmentally-friendly and cost effective alternative—reusable bags.”