Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that as Governor he would introduce legislation to ban plastic bags from being used by retail outlets, regardless of size, with a 10 cents fee on other single use bags (paper) in order to promote the use of returnable bags.
“We need to halt the use of plastic because they degrade into microscopic particles that are rapidly destroying species, fisheries, and ecosystems and harming human health with plastic chemicals. They create massive worldwide litter even in remote places. They cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to dispose in landfills,” said Hawkins.
Two years ago Governor Cuomo blocked the plastic bag law for New York City from going into effort. Mark Dunlea, the Green Party state comptroller candidate, had been one of the major organizers of the 5-year effort to pass the NYC law.
Hawkins said he supported the bill in New Jersey that was voted out of a Senate Committee last week. The measure – S2776 – would ban plastic grocery store bags, Styrofoam food containers and plastic straws. It would also impose a 10-cent fee on paper bags at grocery stores.
At the end of the recent legislative session Cuomo did propose a ban on thin plastic bags but did nothing to move the bill in the legislature. Many environmental groups opposed the bill since its failure to include a fee on other bags such as paper would just cause a shift to such bags, which have their own environmental problems.
The New York City Department of Sanitation currently estimates that it collects an average of 1,700 tons of plastic bags per week, costing $12.5 million per year in disposal expenses. Experts estimate that over eight million metric tons of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans each year.
“New York needs to adopt a zero waste approach to garbage. We need to pass a solid waste packaging act that requires packaging to be returnable, reusable or at least recyclable. We need the state to invest in making it easier to collect and market recyclables,” added Dunlea. Dunlea said he supported A3941 / S1935 on packaging. Packaging represents one-third of the municipal waste stream.