New York state lawmakers have agreed to ban the use of plastic shopping bags as of March 1, 2020.
The proposal was added as part of the $175 billion state budget plan which is expected to pass when it is put to a vote on Sunday.
The ban applies to any store that is required to collect sales tax, including grocery stores, retailers, and small businesses. Plastic bags can still be used for uncooked meat, fish or poultry, bulk items, sliced or prepared foods, newspapers, and prescription drugs.
There are also exemptions for bags sold in bulk such as trash bags, food-storage bags, garment bags, and prepackaged bags offered for sale. Bags for carryout orders at restaurants and taverns will also be allowed, according to the Albany Democrat and Chronicle.
With the new ban, choosing paper will come at a price.
While paper bags are not included in the ban, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports the deal does include a provision allowing cities and counties the option to charge a five-cent fee on paper bags. Stores would keep two cents of that charge, with three cents going to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
Grocers have pushed back.
Mike Durant is the president of the Food Industry Alliance which represents grocers big and small. He told the Democrat and Chronicle that paper bags are more expensive to ship and take up more room.
Some environmentalists are unhappy the bill didn’t go far enough by choosing not to ban paper bags, which are also typically one-use items that litter roads and waterways.
The New York Public Interest Research Group is a non-partisan, nonprofit research and public education organization.
They wrote in a statement that “the state should have learned from other areas that also only banned plastic bags without paper — they just don’t work.”
New York neighbor New Jersey has taken prohibiting the use of plastic due to environmental concerns one step further than the banning of plastic bags.
According to Fox News, the state is considering the toughest statewide plastic and styrofoam bans in the country. Styrofoam beverage and food containers, plastic bags, and plastic straws would be banned from all retailers and restaurants.
New York and New Jersey’s ban are part of a recent wave of anti-plastic legislation.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the European Union moved earlier in the week to ban all single-use plastic items.
California and Hawaii are the only states that already ban single-use plastic bags.
Several big cities, including Boston and Chicago, have similar bans.