While the ban on single-use plastic bags in New York State begins in March, a Westchester town is taking the initiative and will begin a town-wide ban beginning next month.
Beginning on Sunday, Dec. 1, the Town of Mamaroneck will institute a ban on single-use bags and a 5-cent tax on paper bags in local stores, after the Town Board passed the “Mamaroneck Bag Waste Reduction Law.”
The legislation was agreed upon unanimously by the Town Board in September. The statewide ban takes effect as of March 2020.
When the ban takes effect, restaurants will still be permitted to provide plastic bags for takeout food, and no charges will be applied to bags used for fish, meat, produce, dry cleaning or medication.
In a statement, Mamaroneck Town Supervisor said that “we recognize that the ban on single-use plastic bags is essential to the well-being of a sustainable community. We appreciate the cooperation of residents and businesses as we make a smooth transition to reusable bags.”
Reusable bags are being made available for free featuring the Town of Mamaroneck designs at the VFW facility on Boston Post Road, the Supervisor’s Office and at local stores.
Officials said that consumers use billions of plastic bags annually, which do not biodegrade, creating massive amounts of litter in neighborhoods and waterways and posing a threat to the health of area residents and the environment. The ban is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal.
"You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage," officials stated. "Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We need to stop using plastic bags, and today we're putting an end to this blight on our environment.”
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, single-use plastic bags are one of the top five single-use plastics found in the environment by magnitude, and they are one of the top five items encountered in coastline clean-ups.
Between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the United States and they are not acceptable at certain recycling centers.
The EPA estimates that 80 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean originated on land, which includes plastic bags, and in New York, residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually, which contributes to pollution both on and off land. These bags do not biodegrade and they persist for years.
Plastic pollution has become a serious threat to our lakes, rivers and marine environment as well as public health. Scientists are finding plastic pollution in shellfish and finfish, making its way to our dinner plates,” Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said. “Giving up plastic bags and using reusable bags is one easy, reasonable step each member of the public can take to help combat the plastic pollution epidemic. It is time for everyone to get on the plastic bag 'ban wagon.”
"More than just an eyesore, plastic bags are a major source of pollution and cause tremendous environmental damage. The 23 billion plastic bags used by New Yorkers each year get stuck in our trees, blow along our beaches and parks, and endanger our marine and wildlife," Sen. José Serrano, Chair of Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, said. "For the last decade, I have been working with my colleagues to reduce or eliminate plastic bag use in New York and I am thrilled to see the enactment of this statewide ban, making New York one of the leading states to tackle this important issue."
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