Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo Proposes Plastic Bag Ban After Killing New York City's Bag Law
"Among Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goals in the coming year is for the Democrats who now control the State Legislature to ban single-use plastic bags," reports Azi Paybarah on Jan. 22. Bans and/or fees on single-use plastic bags exist in hundreds of cities across the nation, such as Boston where it took effect last month, but statewide bans and/or fees exist in only two states and the District of Columbia.
- Hawaii after the County of Honolulu passed a ban in 2012, joining the state's three other counties that had already done so
- California passed legislation in 2014 that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but the law was subjected to a referendum two years later due to opposition by the plastics industry. Fifty-two percent of voters supported the legislation by approving Proposition 67 and rejecting Proposition 65 on Nov. 8, 2016.
- The District of Columbia enacted a nickel plastic and paper bag fee in January 2010, and it appears to have worked well.
However, it must be noted that more states ban local governments from enacting plastic bag reduction ordinances than those that have adopted them.
Following in the footsteps of Arizona and Missouri in 2015 and Idaho in 2016, Michigan passed legislation in 2016, signed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, to preempt cities or counties from regulating single-use plastic bags or other disposable containers. The law was precipitated by an ordinance passed by Washtenaw County (county seat is Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan) to charge a 10-cent bag fee.
Similarly, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation on Feb. 14, 2017, "effectively killing a law that would have imposed a 5-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City, disappointing environmentalists as well as city leaders who characterized the move as a classic case of Albany’s overreach," reported Jesse McKinley for the Times. Cuomo objected to the fee being kept by the merchants, yet that's what's done with the nickel fee in D.C. and Boston, and the 10-cent fee in California.
The current proposal, described in the governor's Jan. 13 announcement, includes an expansion of the beverage container recycling known as the Bottle Bill. Times reporter Michael Gold of the Times reports more extensively on the proposal and background on the issue, including current state legislation to "establish guidelines for carryout bag waste reduction."
[Also see Gold's related article via Planetizen: New York City Polystyrene Ban Took Effect New Year's Day, January 4, 2019: Thanks to two recent New York State court rulings, disposable food and beverage containers will no longer be made from polystyrene in the nation's largest city.]