What is the Plastic Bag Ban?

February 14, 2020

Within the past few years, climate change concerns have begun to spark up in debates and take over social media platforms. The voices of activists around the world are finally being listened to in this ever-increasing global issue. The causes of rising temperatures in the world can be blamed on industrialization, deforestation, large-scale agriculture and greenhouse gases. In a struggle to keep the Earth livable, it is a necessity to change previous human comforts in exchange for a healthier future. Therefore, why not start with plastic? While waiting in line at the grocery store, people begin to mumble complaints to one another about the plastic bag ban in New York State, worried it will soon be implemented in New Jersey. In New York State the Plastic Bag Ban Act will be enacted on March 1. While this act increasingly receives more backlash, the result of this ban can offer a positive outcome. 

 

According to The Center For Biological Diversity, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year and only one percent of these bags are recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills. In landfills, these bags take about 500 years to degrade, resulting in 100 thousand marine animals being killed by plastic bags annually and over 267 species being affected. While plastic bags may be a human commodity that has become a cultural norm within society, people need to start implementing changes in their lifestyles. If receiving groceries in a recycled brown bag instead of a plastic bag instead is such an inconvenience, people should reflect on the impacts that switching to another style of bag can bring. 

 GRAPHIC COURTESY OF CHANGE.ORG

 

In New York State alone 23 billion plastic bags are used each year, according to The Department of Environmental Conservation. In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force and agreed on Article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) which was amended to create a new Title 28 for the New York State Bag Waste Reduction Act. This means that by March 2020 their Plastic Bag Act will finally be in place. 

 

Why isn’t New Jersey banning plastic bags? Since Jan. 1 about 10 New Jersey towns have begun restricting plastic bags. In some areas like Glen Rock and Asbury Park, stores are placing a 10 cent charge on reusable plastic or paper bags, according to True New Jersey. Despite this growing Garden State movement for eco-friendly policies, the bill is slowly moving in the state Legislature. Many towns worry this will hurt small businesses and increase the cost of necessities. The votes in Trenton at the Statehouse were 4-8, therefore, the bill was pushed back until more people could come to a consensus.

 

Little changes like this act can improve the environment in many ways and begin to reduce the effects of climate change day by day. 

 

Grace is a sophomore English major with a minor in Italian.

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