On Sunday, March 31, it was announced that New York would implement a statewide ban on most single-use plastic bags provided by supermarkets and other stores. Exemptions to the ban include bags used to wrap meats, dry cleaning and plastic bags for fruits and vegetables at supermarkets. This ban was passed as part of New York’s state budget for 2020. Individual counties have the option to charge a 5 cent fee on paper bags, where 2 cents would go to a fund that buys reusable bags for customers, and the rest would go to New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The ban was proposed a year ago and will be initiated on March 1, 2020. New York is now the second state, following California, to ban single-use plastic bags. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that plastic “bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways.” Carl Heastie, a Democratic New York State Representative, also says that “the convenience of plastic bags is simply not worth the environmental impact.”
Plastic waste is a big issue for the environment, especially in our oceans. An estimated 8.8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. Marine animals often consume plastic waste as they believe it is food. Recently, a dead sperm whale washed ashore on Sardinia with 48 pounds of plastic in its stomach, which included plastic bags. These kind of instances are occurring more frequently and will continue to if we keeping producing more plastic products.