"[This plan will] protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers," says Governor Cuomo.
woman carrying plastic bags
Credit: Joe Giddens - PA Images/Getty

New York legislators are expected to pass a new resolution that will ban most retailers from using single-use plastic bags. The plan, which was initially introduced almost a year ago by Governor Andrew Cuomo, will require most stores to stop handing out plastic bags to customers, as these single-use items are non-biodegradable and often end up in landfills.

New York isn't the first state to take aim at plastic bags-in Hawaii, all of the local counties in the state have specific rules about plastic bags, and California instituted a comprehensive ban in 2016. The newest ban, which will apply to everyone in New York state and those living in New York City, is expected to take effect next March, according to the New York Times.

Unlike California's ban, however, New York plans to establish some exceptions in the new rules. Takeout bags used by restaurants aren't included in this ban, nor are the bags used in grocery stores for meat counter products and bulk fruit, as well as garment bags. Retailers will still be allowed to use trash and recycling bags.

According to the Times, the ban enables also local New York lawmakers to institute a five-cent-per-bag fee for paper bags, allowing customers to carry their purchases home in a plastic-alternative for a small additional cost. That revenue would generate more resources for the state's Environmental Protection Fund and another fund to buy reusable bags for local residents.

"These bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways," Governor Cuomo told the Times in a statement. "[This plan will] protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers."

This isn't the first time New York lawmakers have toyed with the idea of regulating plastic bags: In 2017, a separate bill proposing a five-cent fee on bags failed to pass. The Times reports that some environmental advocates in New York believe that the choice to not ban paper bags will create a new problem for residents in the future. "There was a real understanding that there should be a ban on plastic," Todd Kaminsky, a Nassau County state senator, told the Times. "And that if people go to paper rather than reusables, we are not that better off."


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