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New York Will Soon Become Third U.S. State to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

New York has committed to banning single-use plastic bags effective from March 2020. The ban is expected to be passed as part of the state’s 2020 budget deal that was agreed by the legislature and the government on 31 March. A study by the Citizens Budget Commission estimates that this action would reduce the 71,000 tonnes in plastic bags used annually in New York City alone. “Single-use plastics are a first-class and growing environmental nuisance in and of themselves,” said Eric Goldstein, New York City environment director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned that when fishing 40 miles out in the ocean “you see a parade of these plastic bags just floating by.”

There would be some exemptions to the ban, including for prepared food bags, dry cleaning bags, and plastic bags for fruits and vegetables at food markets. The legislation would allow individual counties and cities to opt in to an additional programme that would implement a US$0.05 fee on paper bags. Forty percent of the revenue generated by that fee would support local programmes to buy reusable bags for low- and fixed-income consumers, with the remaining 60 percent going to the New York Environmental Protection Fund.

California was the first U.S. state to implement a state-wide ban on plastic bags, while Hawaii has local laws in place that prohibit plastic bags throughout the state.

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