A plastic bag floating in water.
The new plastic bag ban will protect wildlife, prevent pollution and protect clean drinking water. © iStock Photo


Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Goes into Effect

New York’s new law protects marine life and water quality

On October 19, 2020, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will resume enforcement of the plastic bag ban. Below, read about how this important decision will help benefit people and nature.

Every year, 100,000 marine animals die due to plastic bags. Here in New York, we use an unbelievable 23 billion plastic bags every single year. On average, we use each bag for 12 minutes. Then it spends decades littering our streets, filling landfills, or polluting our oceans, rivers, and bays. In addition, the production and disposal of billions of plastic bags each year releases carbon pollution into the air, making climate change worse. 

On March 1, 2020, New York is making a change. Last year, state legislators passed a new law that bans single-use plastic bags, and on Sunday, March 1st, the new law goes into effect. This is a major win for people and nature. New York’s plastic bag ban will go a long way to conserving natural resources and preventing more pollution entering our air and waterways. 

A plastic bag stuck in a tree.
#BYOBagNY By bringing your own reusable bag, you're reducing the immense amount of plastic bags that litter streets and natural areas. © iStock Photo

As New York takes this huge leap forward, here’s what you need to know:

1.     Starting October 19, you will no longer be given plastic carry out bags when you shop at grocery stores and corner delis. Instead, bring your own to help prevent more waste! 

2.     Plastic bags that haven’t been banned include trash bags, garment bags, bags used to wrap foods like fruit and meat, and bags for prescription drugs and takeout food. 

3.     There is an opportunity to have this new law have even greater effect. New York cities and towns can do this by adopting a local five-cent fee on other single-use bags (i.e. paper). The Nature Conservancy encourages all localities to do this immediately.

This new law is another example of New York’s national leadership in reducing pollution and conserving our natural resources. The Nature Conservancy appreciates Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Todd Kaminsky, and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright for their leadership on this important issue.

Learn more about the Bag Waste Reduction Law by visiting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and join the conversation on social media by using #BYOBagNY

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.