The NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law

reusable bags

bagAs I needed to go to the local CVS pharmacy and Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarket early on March 2, I brought my own canvas bags. I’ve been doing this long before the new NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law.

“As of March 1, 2020, [almost] all plastic carryout bags became banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax… Cities and counties are authorized to adopt a five-cent paper carry-out bag reduction fee…

“In areas that have adopted the five-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children — a nutrition program) recipients…” There are exemptions involving produce and certain small stores, but you get the idea.

So I’m right behind some guy who has no reusable bags. In fact, he seems unaware of the new law. The store’s going to charge him a nickel for a paper bag. Strategically, he decides to pack his own bag, trying to get everything in one. Then he started ranting about how the big corporations are trying to “stick it to the little guy.” The cashier stoically said nothing.

Embracing the canvas

Luckily, I’ve been hoarding collecting reusable bags for a number of years. They tend to be available at almost every street fair (Larkfest and Pinkersterfest in ALB, e.g.) Also, they have been regular giveaways at work conferences. So, long before the law was passed, our household was ridiculously prepared. We’ve used reusable bags, or no bags, for years without legislative fiat.

Because our grocery stores have insisted on double-bagging almost EVERYTHING, we also have a few dozen plastic bags as well. Those will get used up eventually; they’re used as a garbage can or cat litter liner.

Change is difficult, of course. Redeeming bottles and cans took a while for folks to get used to. And some still haven’t gotten there. Almost every time my wife goes for a walk around the neighborhood, she’s collected about a half a buck in returnables.

So I’m good with the new law. As someone said, “I’m usually good with a sin tax if it incentivizes me to adapt my behavior in a positive way.”