New York State Plastic Bag Ban: All You Need to Know

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New York State Plastic Bag Ban: All You Need to Know

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In January 2009, nearly 10 years ago, the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act was put into effect. More recently, the Plastic Bag Ban was ratified in accordance with this act.

The Plastic Bag Ban is set to take full effect on March 1, 2019. According to The Official Website of New York State, the ban “prohibits the distribution of plastic carryout bags by certain retailers in New York state.” A plastic carryout bag is defined as “any plastic bag made of film plastic, bioplastic, biodegradable materials, compostable plastic, plant-based materials, or decomposable materials.”

Indeed, plastic bags are a major inconvenience to our planet. The Official Website of New York State informs us that “Each year, Americans throw away more than 100 billion plastic bags. Less than 1% are recycled.”  The remaining 99% become land and marine litter. Additionally, the production of plastic bags involves fossil fuel usage.

However, exceptions to this ban do exist. This includes usage for takeout food, uncooked raw meat, bulk items (ex: fruit), newspaper deliveries, prescription drugs, and other instances.

Now you must have your own reusable bags when you go shopping. If you don’t, then you may be able to obtain paper bags. But some counties are choosing to impose a 5-cent fee per bag (like Westchester County). This money goes to the Environmental Protection Fund of New York, claiming they will use it to buy reusable bags for citizens.

So how do locals feel about this ban? In a poll of 50 students from John Jay High School, subjects were asked: “How do you feel about the recent plastic bag ban in New York?”. They were given the following options: “it’s a good thing”, “I have no opinion”, and “I don’t like it”. Before answering this question they were given a short summary of the ban. 45 students, or 90%, answered “it’s a good thing,” while 5 people, or 10%, selected “I have no opinion”.

It can be concluded that a majority of local students view this ban as a positive endeavor. Although this was a small sample of people, it is probable that the same trend would have been present in a larger sample. One may question how these students are affected by a plastic bag ban. In response, a recent supermarket opening in the Cross River plaza adjacent to the polled high school has attracted many students. It just so happens this attraction has already implemented this ban.

Although this poll illustrates a fairly positive attitude towards the Plastic Bag Ban, the response may vary. Some New York state citizens may experience sensations of annoyance when denied free plastic from their local joint.  inconvenience could stem from the tax on paper bags to the fact “I forgot my goddamn earth-saving bag at home.” Additionally, some people may have used their earth killing bags as free garbage bags. Well too bad for them!

In a brief interview with 88-year-old Elsie Tassini, a resident of Queens, New York, she expressed her frustration with the ban. Indeed, she used her plastic bags as garbage bags. However, when asked how she felt about this ban being a step towards a more sustainable planet, she responded, “The fact that the Plastic Bag Ban saves the planet far outweighs the disadvantages it has for me.”

Ms. Tassini’s position on this issue is undeniably a common one for someone who pays homage to their mother, earth. It is arguable that the people in the previous poll also felt a hint of irritation, yet were sensible enough to draw a rational conclusion. If we don’t take steps like this Plastic Bag Ban now, we may cease to exist later.

So, as you are dealing with this ‘difficult’ transition to reusable bags, try to remember who it is being done for.


Work Cited:


McKinley, Jesse. “Plastic Bags to Be Banned in New York; Second Statewide Ban, After California.” The New York Times, 28 Mar. 2019.,


Department of Environmental Conservation. NYS Plastic Bag and Film Plastic Reduction – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.


Department of Environmental Conservation. Frequently Asked Questions for Plastic Bag Legislation – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.

Department of Environmental Conservation. NYS Plastic Bag Task Force – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.