Dutchess County is going green, and plastic bags will soon be a relic of the past at area retailers.
What do you think about the ban on plastic bags in Dutchess?
Elected officials in Dutchess County have voted to eliminate single-use carryout bag at retail stores, joining several other counties in New York looking to ban plastic bags. The ban will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
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.
"This is a good first step," Poughkeepsie Legislator Rebecca Edwards said in a statement. "But it's disappointing that the Republican majority refused to accept a stronger bill - one that would really alter consumer behavior and do much more to protect humans, wildlife, waterways, and machinery from the plastic-bag nuisance."
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.
“As the stores eliminate single-use plastic bags, we’ll continue to have paper bags available for the convenience of our customers, but we’ll be encouraging people to use durable, reusable shopping bags,” officials said. “We took a look at our operations, and identified that this was the single most positive environmental change that we could make.”
"The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment,” New York Gov. Cuomo said earlier this year. "As the old proverb goes: 'We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children,' and with this action we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”
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 noted. “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.”
Click here to follow Daily Voice Southwest Dutchess and receive free news updates.