New York is distributing more than 270,000 reusable bags to low- and moderate-income communities in advance of of the state’s plastic bag ban starting March 1.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it will be hosting events at food banks across New York to provide the free bags and educate New Yorkers about the looming ban on single-use plastic bags.
The state started a #BYOBagNY campaign in recent weeks and is working with Feeding New York State food banks across the state to provide the free bags.
New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually, and 85% of them end up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways and streets, the DEC said.
“Right this minute, plastic bags are hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, filling up our landfills and polluting our lakes, rivers and streams — all hurting our environment,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
“We took bold action to protect our environment and ban these environmental blights and with this campaign we’re going to make sure New Yorkers are ready and have all the facts.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation will be handing out these reusable bags for free at food banks across New York in the coming weeks in advance of a plastic bag ban taking effect March 1, 2020.
The ban applies to any stores or sellers that collects tax. They will not be able to give shoppers the thin plastic carryout bags that are ubiquitous in supermarkets and elsewhere.
Grocery stores and retailers can still offer paper bags, but they may come with a 5 cent fee.
State law allows counties and cities to charge a paper-bag fee. But so far, only New York City and three counties — Albany, Tompkins and Suffolk — are planning to do so.
Separately, grocery stores can charge a 5 cent fee on their own, and Wegmans and Price Chopper are among those that plan to do so.
“DEC is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts and will continue to work to develop solutions to combat climate change and protect the environment and we continue to encourage New Yorkers to BYOBagNY and bring their own reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop,” DEC commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.