State Task Force Develops Plan To Reduce Use Of Plastic Bags

A state task force has come up with eight ways to address the use of plastic bags in New York state.

The report has been sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Legislature for consideration.

“As states across the nation and world struggle with the environmental and financial costs of plastic bag waste, New York is developing a comprehensive solution. Under Governor Cuomo’s direction, the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force has identified equitable, statewide solutions to address plastic bag waste and this report provides a menu of options to tackle this issue. I’m grateful to the Co-Chairs and Task Force members for their efforts and hard work to develop this report,” said Basil Seggos, chair of New York’s Plastic Bag Task Force and state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner.

Convened in March 2017, the task force was directed to study the issue of plastic bag waste and develop a comprehensive statewide plan. The report was informed by a roundtable discussion and comments DEC received from interested parties and an exhaustive review of actions taken elsewhere to address plastic bag waste.

The report, which can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/112291.html, provides an overview of the problems caused by single-use plastic bags and reviews single-use plastic bag reduction measures undertaken in New York state, the United States and internationally. Tge measures have included plastic bag fees, plastic bag bans, a combination of fees and bans, manufacturer responsibility programs, and education and outreach initiatives to consumers at both the municipal and statewide level.

The task force’s options to address plastic bag waste in the report are:

¯ Strengthen and Enforce Existing New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act. — continue implementation of the existing New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act while increasing education, enforcement and reporting requirements.

¯ Manufacturer Responsibility for Recycling of Single-Use Plastic Bags – Require manufacturers to fund and implement a program for the collection and recycling of single-use plastic bags.

¯ Fee on Single-Use Plastic Bags – Institute a fee on single-use plastic bags.

¯ Fee per Transaction for Single-Use Bags – Under this option, rather than a fee per bag, a single fee would be imposed for the use of single-use bags (i.e., a fee would be assessed whether a consumer received one bag or 10 bags).

¯ Fee on Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags

¯ Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags – Implement a ban on the sale and use of single-use plastic bags.

¯ Hybrid – Implement a ban on plastic bags with a fee on the allowable alternatives.

¯ Continue Existing Policies – Continue implementation of the existing New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act.

In addition, the report notes the need for any approach taken to include an education and outreach campaign to make consumers aware of the problems with plastic bags for the environment and waste stream, encourage the use of reusable bags and how to properly recycle plastic bags. As part of the education and outreach campaign, the report recommends providing funds to support the distribution of reusable bags with a focus on low and fixed income individuals. If the policy approach taken includes fees, the report suggests that any funding received by the state be dedicated to the Environmental Protection Fund.

Across New York, residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually.

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