Plastic bans are having a moment here on Long Island and in New York.
Bags, straws, stirrers and Styrofoam — even intentionally releasing balloons — all have been targeted in recent months by lawmakers aiming to reduce plastic usage.
Powered by open consideration of garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean, dead whales with plastic in their stomachs and video of a turtle getting a straw expelled from its nose, plastic bans have spread all through the nation and globally. Long Island governments and New York State have now joined in.
“We’re seeing society change right before our eyes, and it’s an incredible moment. The public awareness has reached the point where the public policy is changing,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based advocacy group Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
The public, eager to do something to protect the environment, has latched onto the disposable plastic issue as a tangible way to help, according to Judith Enck, who teaches about plastic pollution at Bennington College in Vermont.
“You don’t see carbon dioxide. You do see plastic bags in trees, on the beaches,” she said. “People have environmental concerns, and this is an issue people easily can be informed on, and get something done at the local level.”
Here’s an Earth Day update on what you need to know.
- When do the bans go into effect?
Thin plastic bags like those given out at grocery, convenience and retail stores will be banned statewide starting March 1. Paper packs will even now be accessible, yet it’ll be up to nearby governments whether stores should charge a 5-penny expense for them. Environmentalists want people to bring reusable bags, since paper bags come with their own environmental price tag, such as more carbon-intensive shipping costs.
In Suffolk County, a restriction on plastic straws and polystyrene foam containers, regularly called Styrofoam, is relied upon to go live Jan. 1. Province Executive Steve Bellone is scheduled to sign those bills Monday.
East Hampton and Long Beach, then, have passed bans on intentionally releasing lighter-than-air balloons because of litter.
Why the plastic hate?
Plastics are derived from fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change, and these plastics litter roads and waters, harm marine animals and break down into microplastics that can be ingested by marine life and enter the food chain, ban advocates said.
Will the bans make a difference?
The prohibited plastics make up just a little level of the plastic waste stream and marine pollution. A recent report in the diary Science, for instance, assessed that of the almost 9 million tons of plastic waste entering the waters every year, the billions of straws indicate just around 2,000 tons. Plastic industry representatives said better management of garbage disposal in foreign countries and investments in recycling would be more effective.
Advocates said the bans are a start — and the low-hanging-fruit to turn the tide against a disposable culture that’s producing a lot of waste.
“It’s both symbolic and real,” said Eric Goldstein, a senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council, of the plastic bans.
Plastic bags and straws, for example, can be swapped with alternatives as only a minor inconvenience for most people.
“These are items that are easily replaceable,” he said. “It makes sense to start somewhere.”
How many plastic bags do we actually utilize?
A state plastic bag team report a year ago refered to considers that found the average American family uses 1,500 single-use plastic bags each year, and collectively, the United States used 100 billion single-use plastic shopping bags in 2014.
“That’s not chicken feed. That’s significant itself,” Goldstein said.
“You can identify any single piece of the plastic waste stream and say, ‘It’s not a problem.’ Collectively, it amounts to a lot.”
What about Suffolk’s 5-cent bag fee?
The state law will supplant Suffolk’s, which had put a 5-penny expense on plastic and paper packs since 2018. That bill had diminished plastic bag utilization 81.7 percent, converting into 1.1 billion fewer plastic bags used in the county last year, according to a county study.
Will there be a 5-penny charge on paper bags?
The state law gives nearby governments the choice of forcing the paper pack expense. Suffolk is probably going to have a 5-penny charge on paper. Nassau isn’t, however towns and urban areas will almost certainly actualize a 5-penny charge that would be kept by stores.
Will plastic straws be banned in Suffolk?
Despite everything you’ll have the capacity to purchase plastic straws at markets. Sustenance foundations will almost certainly keep a store of plastic straws for those with a restorative requirement for a straw.
It’s important to note that other straws, such as those made of paper or other compostable material, would still be available.
What about juice boxes?
The law exempts juice boxes and other beverages that come with an attached plastic straw.
What’s next in the counter plastic development?
Hope to see tree huggers push for a statewide ban on polystyrene next year.
Additionally, search for crackdowns on other single-use plastics, such as disposable forks, knives and spoons, and have them replaced with compostable materials.
And watch as environmentalists try to tackle how manufacturers and shippers package material.
“The next horizon here is it’s really important to address single-use plastic packaging,” Enck said.