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Governor proposes ban on plastic bags

SPRINGVILLE—A ban on single-use plastic bags might be coming to New York following the introduction of a bill by Governor Andrew Cuomo. If approved, the ban will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. The ban would prohibit the use of single-use carry out bags at any point of sale in the state.

“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets. Our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment,” Cuomo said in a press release. “With this action we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”

The New York State Plastic Bags Task Force reported in January plastic bags are a source of litter on land and in waterways, are harmful to marine habitats and wildlife and are costly for municipalities and recycling centers in terms of time and money to manage. The Task Force also cited an EPA estimation of 80 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean originates as land-based trash, such as plastic bags.

In 2015, a law requiring certain stores to collect some single-use plastic bags for recycling was updated to include the collection and recycling of certain film plastics and provide an in-store plastic bag and film plastics recycling program.

Cuomo’s proposed legislation does not include garment bags, garbage bags or bags used to wrap certain foods, such as sliced meets or produce.

The Task Force outlined eight options for reducing the environmental impact of plastic bags, including the ban. If approved, New York would join California in having a statewide ban on single-use bags. Though Hawaii has not banned the use of plastic bags, its most populous counties prohibit non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout, as well as paper bags with less than 40 percent recycled material. Austin, Texas; Cambridge, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Seattle, Wash. and Boulder, Colo. also have bans on plastic bags. Ten municipalities in New York have similar bans on the product, with Suffolk County and the City of Long Beach imposing a fee for single-use plastic bags.

“I think it’s a great idea. It’s a good move … from an environmental point of view,” Green Springville co-founder Reed Braman said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it implemented, I think it will be beneficial.”

He said he understands there will be some growing pains, if the bill is passed, for shoppers to remember to bring their own bags. Even for him, always having reusable bags isn’t realistic.

“Change is hard. It’s definitely something we all have to get used to,” he said. “You just have to do the best you can.”

Shoppers earlier this week shared their feelings on the ban, both those in support and against the proposed plastic bag ban.

“I think it’s a great idea. I always have good intentions … with this I wouldn’t have a choice [but to bring reusable bags,” said an East Concord resident who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s a good idea … you always see [plastic bags] in the trees or on the street.”

Peggy Rice, who isn’t a fan of Cuomo said he should try another approach.
“I think he should mind his own business,” she said.

Along with the ban, Cuomo’s bill also includes a statewide education and outreach campaign to increase consumer awareness of single-use bags and the impact on the environment and promote the use of reusable bags.

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