New York’s 2020 Plastic Bag Ban

Switching to reusable bags may be more expensive for retailers, but a planet covered in plastic bags would be more costly.

Photo: Keng Susumpow/Flickr

Plastic bags have become a well known threat to the environment. They’re found nearly everywhere nowadays. Plastic bags float on the surfaces of streams and lakes. They soar through the wind across quiet streets. They dangle from the branches of trees, waiting to be freed. Plastic bags even hide in places you can’t see them, such as the stomachs of unsuspecting, hungry animals.

It is estimated that about a trillion plastic bags are used annually across the globe. In New York State alone, 23 billion are used a year. New York has the fourth largest population in the United States, home to about 20 million residents as of 2018. That’s a lot of people to contribute to this environmental problem.

New York State Governor, Andrew M Cuomo, signed a legislation on Earth Day 2019 to ban single-use plastic bags. Starting in March 2020, plastic bags that are non-biodegradable cannot be sold by retailers. This is a big step to help the environment, ending greenhouse emissions released in the production of plastic bags, and protecting marine life from an unpleasant death. 

Stores, restaurants, and any other retailer will not be permitted to provide customers with plastic bags. However, New York counties can opt to sell paper bags instead for a 0.05 cent fee. The fee will go toward the Environment Protection Fund, which will use the money to make reusable bags more accessible. While paper bags tear easily and aren’t easy to reuse, they have a much less significant effect on the environment.

Not all plastic bags will be banned. Trash bags, bags for holding specific foods, and garment bags are exempt from the ban. 

Although many praise the idea of banning plastic bags, there are also many critics. Plenty of retailers across the state are unhappy with the future changes. Plastic is convenient and cheap, making plastic bags the go-to option for those looking for a profit. 

Many also claim the law is too vague, especially with the edits and changes it has had. Critics have stated that the definition of a plastic bag is too general. Retailers are unsure of what is considered to be reusable. Retailers are unsure how to apply the upcoming law while still making customers happy.

Some customers themselves aren’t excited about the news. Many believe plastic bags have many uses, including being used as trash bags. Some say they never put plastic bags to waste, and that not all New Yorkers should be punished for the bad deeds of a few. Some New Yorkers are really attached to their plastic bags.

Whether or not you agree with the ban, it is a well known fact that plastic bags have plagued our environment. As of now, only 1 in 20 plastic bags are recycled properly worldwide. Reduction of plastic bags helps to lead New York towards saving marine life and cleaning up the Earth. Switching to reusable bags may be more expensive for retailers, but a planet covered in plastic bags would be more costly.

Leave a Comment