New York to become second state to ban plastic bags

New York state lawmakers have agreed to a ban on single-use plastic bags, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The ban, which will likely be part of the state's budget bills that are expected to pass Monday, will reportedly prohibit retailers from giving customers single-use bags, making New York the second state to ban the bags.

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There will be several exceptions to the ban, including for trash bags, newspaper bags, garment bags and food takeout bags.

It will go into effect next March. 

Counties will also reportedly be allowed to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags to discourage their use as well. 

California became the first state to ban plastic bags last year. Hawaii has also effectively banned the bags, as all of the state's counties have passed legislation banning them. 

According to the Times, the plan was proposed a year ago by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). 

"For far too long plastic bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways and that's why I proposed a ban in this year's budget," Cuomo said in a statement to The Hill.

"With this smart, multi-pronged action New York will be leading the way to protect our natural resources now and for future generations of New Yorkers," he added.

Supporters of such bans say that the non-biodegradable bags are harmful to the environment. Environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy of New York are supporting the ban and also calling for a fee on other single-use bags. 

 

Other groups, like the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, which represents many in the state's grocery industry, oppose the ban. The group said in a January statement that it believes paper bags are the real environmental threat and that the plastic ban will be harmful for business. 

"A plastic bag ban will simply increase the financial duress for New York’s grocery store industry without achieving the goal of improving the environment," the group said. "While we strongly oppose this proposal from Governor Cuomo, we look forward to working with the administration on a more sustainable solution that benefits both our industry and environment.”