Why We Need to Reduce Single-use Bags

Why We Need to Reduce Single-use Bags

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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.

      Plastic bag in gutter caw

    • 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.

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