You are reading

New York State Plastic Bag Ban Begins March 1

Photo: Stock Unsplash

Feb. 26, 2020 By Kristen Torres

The state’s plastic bag ban goes into effect March 1 and New Yorkers will have to bring their own reusable bags to most stores or pay five cents for a paper one.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation outlawing the use of single-use plastic bags last year with the goal of cutting down on the nearly 10 billion plastic bags that are discarded each year in New York City alone.

The new ban will apply to all store owners, mall operators, and manufacturers that collect state taxes—including grocery stores, gas stations and bodegas.

“You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage,” Cuomo said in a statement.

But the state is still allowing the use of plastic bags in limited cases.

Plastic bags used to prevent food contamination, such as for take-out food, bulk packaging of fruits, nuts and vegetables or sliced meats are exempt from the new rule. So too are bags to protect privacy, such as those used for prescription medications.

Pre-packaged plastic bags sold in bulk, such as garbage or sandwich bags, are also exempt.

The state did not require local municipalities to charge 5 cents for the paper bags. However, the city went ahead with the bag tax–although residents who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Woman, Infant and Children program (WIC) are exempt from the fee.

Three cents of the bag tax will go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, while the other two cents will be used to pay for the distribution of reusable bags.

The city’s DOS has been giving out free reusable bags as part of a massive campaign to get residents ready for the ban—nearly 700,000 reusable bags have been distributed by the department since 2016.

email the author: [email protected]

36 Comments

Click for Comments 
Charles Castro

Yeah the paper bags are a much better idea, greener. Now we only have to kill millions of trees. Oh well, our politicians working for us.

5
64
Reply
David

– Charles we can always replenish the natural resource of trees. Deductive reasoning and logic working for us.

22
1
Reply
Anonymous

Just another tax, same as deposit bottles. With curbside recycling the deposit law should have gone away. I’ll treat the fee for paper bags the same as deposit bottles, just the cost of doing business.

10
1
Reply
Jackie

The markets and streets were full of old folks with grocery utility carts on Sunday. They should make the paper bags free for seniors and the disabled. There was so much confusion by the check out line. Can we use the paper bags to throw away our household garbage? Or will they fine us for not using a garbage bag?

4
1
Reply
Mac

Jackie – Has anyone suggested or even mentioned your house hold garbage? Is everything this much of an ordeal to you ?

1
6
Reply
Tonya

The Plastic bag ban will lead to a paper bag shortage. The 5 cents fee will increase eventually.

8
3
Reply
Deb

Nice to know that the 5 cents fee will be going to the Environmental Protection Fund and to help pay for the distribution of reusable bags that is if markets actually pay the city when every single one is purchased.

1
11
Reply
Helen

Those that could should just shop online. I never thought I would but my neighbors suggested I give it a try last year. Many of the food and household products are fresh and cheaper compared to our local supermarkets in Astoria. Delivery is prompt (unless your packages are stolen but I never had a problem getting my money refunded after I reported to online retailers). I also decided to give it a try after many of my friends and family members that would visit from other places in the borough told me how expensive the markets in Astoria are compared to their own. I am all for supporting local business but not when i feel like i am getting ripped off.

14
7
Reply
Camila

If you pay using SNAP or WIC, you should not be charged any paper bag fees. Stores must provide SNAP and WIC users with free carryout bags. Markets need to abide by this rule. Reprt them to 311 if they do not. I was told I would have to pay even though I use SNAP. I am glad I read this article and found more info I can present to the cashier. I’m tired of markets around here raising prices every couple of months. And now they started telling me that I got to spend a certain amount of money to get a particular product for the sale price! Its ridiculous when half of the items on sale require you to spend more to get in on sale.

14
33
Reply
It’s wet out!

Imagine if you have no bag and it’s raining and the paper bags get soggy and your bag breaks and your eggs and your glass jars of tomato sauce shatter, whose going to pay for that replacement. I know I’m not!

20
4
Reply
PlasticBagsWereNeverThatGreat

Now I have to carry 100 potatoes home with my bare hands.
Thanks a lot “America was never that Great” Cuomo!

11
40
Reply
Mac

Some people will cry over anything and everything. You’ll get your eggs and glass jars home in the very same manner people did for generations with paper bags, safely and in one piece. What did you do when plastic bags split in the street? You coped and you’ll cope in a paper bag situation too. If you want a plastic bag so badly just pull one of the thousands of plastic bags strewn in the trees or clogging the sewers. You’re ridiculous.

6
10
Reply
Mac

@MacNCheese- I’m way too old to be a hipster. Is that all Fox Entertainment and the petrochemical lobby armed you with? Pathetic..

3
10
Astorian

Then get sturdy reuse-able bags! The rest America has already done it. In Long Island people just carry around bags.

1
15
Reply
Anonymous

They carry bags around in their cars. I take mass transit to work. I don’t wear a backpack everywhere I go because I’m an adult. Guess I’ll just pay the tax for the paper bags and buy single use bags for daily household trash. Box of 1000 on Amazon $25.00, it’s worth it.

Reply
Psh

The rest of Long Island just use cars to get around… god forbid they walk anywhere!

Reply
John

At first I did not know how I felt about this but then I realized I’m pulling plastic bags out of my bushes and trees everyday.

I made it a month in Europe this passed summer bagging my own things, in my own bags and not using multiple rolls of paper towels a week. I can definitely do better myself.

6
17
Reply
Frida

Most of the plastics bags that I see in our neighborhood are ones with dog waste that get dumped in city garbage cans, neighbors trash cans, by trees and on sidewalks. They are also stationed all over Astoria Park ready for Dog Owners to use.

7
3
Reply
Happy Exterminator

Make sure you get a good contract with an exterminator for all the roaches that will come in with the paper bags. That is good for my business.

16
4
Reply
Will

This is great!! We really need to make a big change right now. We coexist with other animals and plans. We should never think or act only for ourselves. This is still a very small step and an action for the damages that we humans have made to the environment. If we New Yorkers change, and do lots of great things for the environment, the rest of the world will follow and change their actions too.

8
35
Reply
Anon

Now I’ll buy bags to line the kitchen trash cans, and the bathroom waste baskets. They will be true single use bags. In addition I’ll buy paper bags for groceries. I am not going to carry around reusable bags just in case I might go shopping.

32
7
Reply
Vaso

Its very confusing. Two major supermarkets around here told me that they will not be providing any bags at all. In other words, they will not sell paper bags and you must bring your own bags. I guess i will miss spontaneous shopping. What about the small grocery stores/delis that offer products and prepared food?

18
5
Reply
Rita

I was given the same response when I asked but I think it was misinformation. Today I noticed brown paper bags were available at the market that told me they will no longer carry bags. Some of the cashiers have a language barrier and it could of been a misunderstanding.

Reply
Tanya

For the 15 dollars an hour cashiers now make they should also help us carry our groceries to the car. All supermarket products went up to pay them more.

16
5
Reply
Pack the bags!

Totally agree! I’ll bring my own bag and start packing and the cashiers just stand there not doing anything. Like hello! You can help pack the bag too. Just lazy! I can’t wait to see how much longer the lines will be for checkout. And I hope they adjust the weights for the bags when we have to self checkout!

13
2
Reply
Gloria

Eventually most retailers will just resort to self check out lines. I came back from Europe and they already have self check out machines when ordering food and paying for it at fast food places. I rather push a button than deal with some of these rude cashiers that only are courteous to people who look and talk like them.

8
4
Reply
Martha

Ironic…..years ago they banned paper bags because they were “killing trees” and now, they are banning plastic bags and using paper bags again.

36
89
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.