Why We Need to Reduce Single-use Bags
Why do we need to reduce disposable bag use in NYC?
Every year, New Yorkers dispose of more than 9.37 billion single-use plastic bags -- and millions of them end up in our neighborhoods, trees, streets, and oceans. New York City spends $12.5 million per year to send them to landfills, and even more to clean them off playgrounds, beaches, parks, and other public places.
Single-use plastic bags are environmentally harmful.
- Even when properly disposed of, because of their weight and aerodynamic properties, plastic bags often become litter, clogging storm drains and waterways.
- New Yorkers use 9.37 billion carryout bags per year, the vast majority of which are not recycled.
- Plastic bags account for over 1,700 tons of residential garbage per week in NYC on average.
Plastic bags cost the public money.
Each year, New York City pays an estimated $12.5 million to transport 91,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills in other states.
Shopping bags jam expensive machinery at recycling plants and contaminate the recycling stream, increasing costs.
Our current voluntary plastic bag recycling regime is ineffective.
New York State legislation that created a voluntary plastic bag take-back recycling system lacks enforcement and has failed to produce a demonstrable impact in reducing plastic bag waste.
Other cities have successfully reduced plastic bags through per-bag charges and there is no reason New York City should be left behind.
Washington D.C.'s bag tax not only reduced usage by as much as 60% but part of its revenue goes to clean up the Anacostia River.
Large stores covered by Los Angeles County's ban on plastic bags and ten-cent paper bag charge reduced overall single-use bag usage by 95%, which includes a 30% reduction in paper bag usage.
San Jose reduced plastic bag litter by 89% in the storm drain system, 60% in the creeks and rivers, and 59% in city streets and neighborhoods with a ban on plastic bags and a ten-cent paper bag charge. In addition, the average number of single-use bags decreased from 3 bags to .3 bags per visit.